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Mancini — it’s a Valley story, too



Published: Sun, September 23, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


“This is my story, too.”

Those were the words of Lisa Malie when The Vindicator tracked her down last week outside Barnes & Noble.

Just on sale that day was “The Good Son” — a biography of Youngstown son Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini written by Mark Kriegel. And she had her copy.

The book chronicles the life of Mancini — the highs and the lows.

As far as I can find — it’s the only book on Mancini.

And it’s about time.

Malie’s words — that Mancini’s story is also her story — are certainly true for her, as she grew up with the Mancinis on the South Side.

But her words are true for Youngstown, for the Valley and, in some ways, for America.

Ray’s story — fathers and sons, triumph and tragedy, heroic climbs and awful falls, and many, many rebirths — is a story for a lot of people and cities.

This week, that story comes roaring back to life for us — like a Mancini body combo.

On Thursday, Mancini will be at Barnes & Noble signing “The Good Son.”

On Friday, in an event presented by Gia Russa, he will be at Powers Auditorium for an invite-only showing of a documentary named the same as the book. (Follow us on Facebook this week, and you could win a movie invite. We are giving away 40 pairs of them.)

The trailer for the documentary is gripping. It focuses on a union between Mancini and the son and widow of fighter Duk-koo Kim. The fighters are forever joined as it was Kim who died at the hands of Mancini 30 years ago in a national TV title bout.

“I’m going to find a sense of relief, a sense of peace. I hope he feels the same,” says Mancini in the film, referring to meeting Kim’s son. The film officially debuts in November at several film festivals. Talks are in the works for it to air on a national network.

Youngstown will get to see it Friday, and that’s proper because Mancini’s story is, in part, Youngstown’s story.

My story of Mancini is limited, but ironic.

I’m a huge fan of late singer Warren Zevon, and his song “Boom Boom Mancini” plays often on our road trips — just before “Excitable Boy” and just after “Carmelita.” My sons smirk a bit when Zevon thunders “... from Youngstown, Ohio ...”

I grew up in the Italian section of Buffalo, and Mancini’s uncle’s newsstand was my neighborhood candy store. I was always wondering why there were pictures on the walls of the boxer I’d see on TV. I went to the store often, figuring I’d meet Mancini (and for the peanut butter cups).

Fast-forward 26 years, and I’m working here, and on the phone with Mancini. It was a courtesy call to him about ESPN seeking Vindy Mancini photos to use for a 25th anniversary feature on the Kim fight.

The call opened a door into how deeply that tragedy still gnaws at a soul. When a loved one dies by some mishap, the pain is deep. But often lost is the life of pain lived by the survivor of such mishaps.

Unless you are the survivor.

Ray expressed frustration and regret that his kids had to go to school and get razzed by others that “their dad killed somebody.” He was eager for the ESPN project, called “Triumph and Tragedy,” in hopes it could ease the pain of others.

Watching the trailer of “The Good Son,” it looks like this book/movie is a chance to ease some of his pain.

And it’s a chance to finally chronicle in print and in film the good life of a good son — good to his family, and to his town.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com.


Comments

1isaac45(280 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

heard an interview with kriegel on jim rome the other day, fascinating...kriegel has written excellent biographies on pete maravich and joe namath...i'm sure both the book and film are worthy, though difficult projects

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