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"Boom Boom" In Buffalo

Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini will be in Amherst with author Mark Kriegel at 7 p.m. on Wednesday to promote "The Good Son," Kriegel's biography of the former world lightweight boxing champion. Kriegel, who has written acclaimed biographies of Joe Namath and Pete Maravich, will read passages from the book at the Barnes and Noble branch on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

Kriegel and Mancini will also conduct a question and answer session at the store. Mancini is a native of Youngstown, Ohio. But his paternal grandfather, Nick Mancino, settled in Buffalo and Mancini has several relatives in the area. Kriegel said members of Mancini's family are expected to attend the event.

"Ray considered Buffalo his second ancestral home," Kriegel said. He said that was the main reason Mancini fought a title defense against Livingstone Bramble in 1984. Mancini lost that fight.

As in his previous sports biographies, Kriegel examines the relationship between a father and son, and the son's pursuit of redemption for his dad. Mancini's father, Lenny, was a top lightweight contender in the early 1940s. But Lenny, who also went by "Boom Boom" was never the same fighter being struck by a German mortar sheel in World War II. 

Ray Mancini became a national hero in the early 1980s, a sort of "real Rocky" figure when boxing was still a major TV draw in the U.S. But he became more renowned for a brutal fight that killed Korean Duk Koo Kim in November of 1982.  Kriegel tracks down Kim's son and arranges a meeting with Mancini.

"The Good Son" is a terrific book, the third in a trinity that give Kriegel a claim to the title of our finest current sports biographer. It would be hard to rank the three books, but this might be the best of the three.

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