On November 13, 1982, a 21-year-old world champ Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini met 23-year-old South Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim….who had struggled to make the 135 lb weight limit…. and had to lose several pounds shortly before the fight. The title bout, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, was televised live on CBS Sports. It was, according to many observers, a fight filled with action…..as Mancini won by TKO in the 14th round…..when moments after the fight ended….Kim collapsed and fell into a coma, having suffered a subdural hematoma and died four days later. The week after his death, the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine showed Mancini and Kim battling, under the title “Tragedy in the Ring”.
Mancini went to the funeral in South Korea and fell into a deep depression afterwards. He has said that the hardest moments came when people approached him and asked if he was the boxer who “killed” Duk Koo Kim. Mancini went through a period of reflection….as he blamed himself for Kim’s death. In addition, Kim’s mother committed suicide three months after the fight….and the bout’s referee, Richard Green, killed himself in July 1983. As a result of Kim’s death, the WBC took steps to shorten its title bouts to a maximum of 12 rounds. The WBA and WBO followed in 1988 and the IBF in 1989…..so, Mancini was still recovering from the emotional trauma of Duc Koo Kim’s death when he faced off against Livingstone Bramble to retain his title in Buffalo, New York.
This time however, Mancini came out on the losing end, defeated after 14 rounds…..but can you imagine how difficult it would be to step back into the ring after the last man you fought died as a result of the beating he took….so, Mancini lost the title, but not before a fierce effort that resulted in an overnight stay at Millard Fillmore Hospital and 71 stitches around one eye. This was a war!! You could tell by new Champ Livingstone Bramble’s words that he had greater respect for Mancini after the fiight confirming that he hit hard.