By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini lives in California, but he hasn’t forgotten his Youngstown roots.
The former lightweight boxing champion was in town Saturday to attend three viewings of “The Good Son,” a movie based on his life. Following the showings of the documentary at the Oakland Center for the Arts, Mancini answered questions from the audience, spending as much time as it took to answer them all, then greeted fans in the lobby and signed autographs.
“What I love about Ray the most is he never forgot about where he came from,” said Linda Frattaroli of Poland. “And I highly respect him for that, and how far he’s come.”
Frattaroli read the book of the same title that was the basis for the movie. She attended the event because she was interested in learning more about Mancini’s life.
“It was excellent,” she said. “It was definitely a moving story. It moved me for sure.”
The father/son relationship aspect of his story moved her, she said.
Mancini’s father, Lenny Mancini, was a lightweight contender, also. The original “Boom Boom” lost the chance to be a boxing champion when fragments from a German mortar shell nearly killed him in World War II. Mancini promised to win the title his father couldn’t.
Frattaroli also was interested in the effects on Mancini of winning the world championship and his November 1982 bout with Duk Koo Kim.
Kim, a Korean challenger, went down in the 14th round and died without regaining consciousness.
Iesha Scott, 13, of Youngstown, wanted to learn more about the Kim fight, as well.
She, and her friend, Antastasia Robinson, 13, weren’t born when Mancini was champion, but they’ve heard about the legend.
When she learned of the result of Mancini’s fight with Kim, Scott thought Mancini must be a bad person. After seeing the movie, however, she understood that wasn’t the case.
“He explained it a lot,” she said. “And he explained it really to where I could understand that he didn’t really mean to do it.”
During the question and answer portion, Scott asked Mancini if he’d say yes if he could go back to the day he was asked to fight Kim.
“He said he would fight him, but he’d just change what he did so he wouldn’t have died,” Scott said. She was happy with that answer.
Robinson said she’d heard Mancini was an interesting person to meet and that the movie was great.
“I came to see the movie because I never saw it and to meet, to actually meet, Ray Mancini,” she said.
She wasn’t disappointed.
“It was awesome,” she said.
A lifelong resident of the area, Mary Theis, of Warren, remembers watching Mancini fight, and many of her relatives knew him.
“So it made it more interesting for me because of that,” she said.
Mancini was well-loved in his hometown of Youngstown, but that wasn’t all, Theis said.
“People loved him all over,” she said.
She attended the event with Virginia Popovich of Warren.
“Even I, who did not follow the boxing world, remembered ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini from Youngstown,” she said.