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

4.6 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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 (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #682,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a disappointing book! Not because of subject matter but because of the ATROCIOUS writing! I was a kid from Philly when Ray Mancini rose to prominence and I loved the Rocky movies so of course I really liked watching Mr. Mancini's boxing matches. And I remember watching the tragic fight with Kim Duk-Koo. So of course I was very interested in reading this biography and learning more of Mancini's life after the tragedy and of learning more about Kim Duk-Koo.

But I couldn't go on after the 3rd chapter. The writing was inconsistent, childish and irreverent in the wrong places. (especially concerning deaths and violence---more on this later) The author couldn't make up his mind on whether he was writing a well-researched biography, a fictional crime-noir novel or a bad script for a movie of the week reject! The writing was that bad. And detail is always good UNLESS it is wildly irrelevant details seemingly inserted to fill out a page count.

I almost continued with the book because I wanted to learn more about Kim Duk-Koo and the aftermath of that tragedy. BUT I didn't trust the author to handle it with class and dignity. The author was always trying too hard to make violence and/or death seem novelized like it might be in a crime-noir movie or novel. To be honest the author's frivolous manner towards death was rather disgusting. I even read a later chapter to see if the tone changed. It didn't.

Just a horribly WRITTEN biography.

I truly hope that someday a GOOD author will write a biography on Ray Mancini.
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By Avid Fan on February 11, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is excellent as it goes into full detail of his entire life and career. Ray Mancini is one of the greatest athletes of our time and I was blessed to meet him and read his story.
Well done!
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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: 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 Verified Purchase
Ray and his career are totally interesting and very open;
It is so nice to read a Biograpy about someone that holds little back. We have had to watch so many of our great fighters meet horrible endings to their lives and unfortunately trying to receive the facts about their lives in their words is very difficult.

Ray Mancini is one of our great fighters who has it appeares over came the many demons that Stars encounter and is willing to share them.

The book also goes into great details on almost every fight he fought and how his career was almost destroyed by the unfortunate death of his opponent Kim Duc (SP) of Korea and how his fight alterered for quite some time his path to becoming a Champion several times after losing fights due to the pchlogical demons he faced after Kim's unfortunate death due to this fight.

I have the feeling that any fight fan would be very comfortable talking to Ray ( except sbout the death of Kim) whereever they met him.

I found the book as well written and fun read,,,,,,,,
If you like the truth and honesty written about someone from the fight game I recommend this book
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