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The Good Son: The Life of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini Hardcover – September 18, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Our American literary tradition happily disregards the intellectuals and cherishes the sportswriters. As we should, for the great sportswriter combines the fan’s love of American Culture with the scribe’s intuition of tragedy. Or, as Red Smith, Damon Runyon, or Bill Heinz might have put it: ‘Kriegel does for Boom Boom what Margaret Mitchell did for the Civil War.’”
—David Mamet

“As told by Mark Kriegel, the true tale of Boom Boom Mancini is one of blood and spirit, of the ghosts bequeathed from fathers to sons, from pugilists to their progeny. If The Good Son is a sports book, it’s the best I’ve ever read. Either way, in any genre, it is masterful storytelling.”
—David Milch

“The Good Son is muscular, literary sportswriting at its best, which is what we've come to expect from Mark Kriegel. But it's also much, much more. Here is the story not just of the rise and fall of a great prizefighter from a hard-luck industrial town—rendered, throughout, with tremendous heart—but of fathers and sons, (and brothers), of America's hunger for mythic heroes, of the tragic collision of two lives. It's a slender, yet epic book, as graceful, layered and achingly intimate as the finest novel.”
—Jonathan Mahler, author of Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning


“It’s easy to say The Good Son will go down as one of the great boxing books of all time. But in telling the story of Ray (Boom Boom) Mancini, Mark Kriegel has accomplished something beyond sports. His book is, put simply, a masterpiece; an ode to father-son relationships, to the drive and makeup of champions; to what it is to experience the high of a world championship and the low of watching an opponent die in the ring. There’s a reason Kriegel is one of America’s elite biographers. The Good Son is spectacular.”
—Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton

"A bloody, beautiful elegy to hard-won manhood, The Good Son is a great read. Kriegel, one of America's best writers, is every bit as fierce and fearless as his subject."
—Scott Raab, author of The Whore of Akron and Esquire Writer at Large

"Honestly, it's simply not possible to write a better book—sports, non-sports, fiction, non-fiction—than The Good Son, Mark Kriegel's remarkable biography of Boom Boom Mancini, which is by equal turns uplifting, heartbreaking, cautionary and redemptive. And impossible to put down."––Mike Vaccaro, New York Post columnist

"Kriegel is a meticulous researcher and gifted interviewer, and, in this stirring biography, the joy and tragedy experienced by the Mancini family is palpable—never more than in the account of a meeting between Kim’s son and Ray 30 years after Kim died at Ray’s hand. Kriegel picks his subjects carefully and does them justice. Can there be higher praise for a biographer?"––Booklist, starred review

"Kriegel’s smoothly written biography tells the story of a rust belt hero whose boxing career was marred by tragedy in the ring. . . . as a saga of two families dealing with hardship and violent death, this boxing history is completely engaging."––Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Mark Kriegel is the author of two critically acclaimed bestsellers, Namath: A Biography and Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich. He is a veteran columnist and a commentator for the NFL Network. He lives with his daughter, Holiday, in Santa Monica, California.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743286359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743286350
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Kriegel, a former sports columnist for the New York Daily News, is the author of the critically acclaimed bestseller Namath: A Biography. He lives in Santa Monica, California, with his daughter, Holiday.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I got a copy of this wonderful book Monday evening and haven't been able to put it down. It reads like an old friend telling you great stories. I didn't know of him before seeing him on NFL AM. Mark Kriegel is an incredibly gifted writer who weaves the stories in this book together in such a compelling manner that my plans are to read his two earlier books immediately upon completing The Good Son.

I like sports and boxing, but am not a huge fanatic. This is a great book telling interesting stories well, regardless of whether you're a boxing or sports fan. Like I heard him say, " It's a story of fathers and sons, and life." And it is a knockout.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a avid boxing fan in the 1980s, as well as a good friend of Boom Boom's cantankerous manager David Wolf, I thought I knew all there was to know about the Mancini story. However, this book hits you at so many emotional levels, it is as hard to stop thinking about as it was putting it down. A remarkable story told in a very remarkable way by a talented writer. Even if you have no interest in boxing, this book will speak to you on some level. Great read.
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Format: Hardcover
Mark Kriegel has followed his insightful biography of Pete Maravich with a figure, if not as iconic, than probably at least equally misunderstood.

Boom-Boom Mancini became a media sensation in the early 1980's after the networks blared his story of following his fathers unrequited dream of a World Championship belt. His father, Lenny, had climbed up the contention ladder in the 1940's with a swarming, never say die style. His dream was punctured while fighting in World War II.

Ray was his youngest son, and fought with the same determined frenzy. A string of wins over solid contenders put him in line to meet the charismatic Alexis Arguello. Mancini acquitted himself well, but was overcome by Arguello's well honed skills and deep heart.

Yet, in the days of split titles, Mancini secured a shot of the fractional lightweight title in his very next fight. The one round it lasted was spectacular, and Boom-Boom became a made for TV fighter. Took punishment, dished it out. America loves Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robots, and Mancini manufactured this type of fight. And, the climax was yet to come.

After two title defenses, Mancini met unknown Korean Duk Koo Kim, who had somehow been elevated to number one contender under the corruption of the Alphabet Soup Boxing Sanctioning bodies. Most everyone believed he was being led to slaughter, and yet Kim believed in his own will, and tried to out Mancini Boom-Boom. In a fight for the ages, the two fighters stood toe to toe and took turns hurting each other. In the Fourteenth round, Kim went down. He got up, and then lay prostate on the canvas. He died several days later.

The twenty one year old Mancini was a changed man, and his boxing edge was forever duller.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I would highly recommended this to anyone that thinks they know the Boom Boom story. It reveals the inner thoughts of what we think we know. I am proud to call Ray Mancini a fellow buckeye and happy he has finally received closure. It is truly a tribute to what sons do go for our fathers love.
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Format: Hardcover
This astonishing book establishes Mark Kriegel as one of the great boxing writers. A meticulous work of reportage and analysis, it stands along with the best of A.J. Liebling and Hugh Mcilvanney - but, as a piece of storytelling, it also stands along with the novels of Leonard Gardner, W.C. Heinz and Eddie Muller.

Presented as a biography of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, the ferocious World Lightweight Champion of the first half of the 1980s, The Good Son is also a history of boxing in the U.S., and of the Ohio working class. It is a story of love, marriage, friendship, ego, fear, loss and redemption. If this sounds epic, it is - and yet it is not a long book. I can think of no other book so packed with information that is such an easy read. For the two days that it took me to read it, I resented every brief conversation that took me away from it.

There are some shocking revelations, too; promoter Bob Arum not only frankly reveals the sport's corruption (which is far worse nowadays) - he gives the exact figures that had to be paid in bribes to make things happen. Even more shocking is the evidence Kriegel presents to suggest that Richard Greene, who refereed the fight between Mancini and Duk-Koo Kim in which Kim was killed, did not commit suicide a few months later out of guilt or grief, but is more likely to have been murdered.

Kriegel is so precise in his reporting that I could spot only one (possible) error; Mancini is introduced to a well-known actor, who later complains that Mancini was so aloof and so full of himself that he shook hands disdainfully with his fingertips.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this book. I followed Mancini and admired him and his story when it was happening but learned many new details about his life and career. If you enjoy a good story about those who persevere to achieve their goals then you'll enjoy this book.
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