Ray Mancini became a fighter in the name of his father. In The Good Son: The Life of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Mark Kriegel reveals the relationship between the two men and Mancini’s role as a competitor following in his father’s footsteps. Kriegel spoke with Bill for this week’s Only A Game.

Bill thoughts on The Good Son: The Life of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.

Ray Mancini’s father, also nicknamed “Boom Boom,” was a contender in the early ’40s. He might have been Lightweight Champion if he hadn’t gone to war.

Young Ray was determined to win a title on his father’s behalf, which gave his career a story line folks otherwise unconcerned with boxing could embrace. The affection between father and son was real, television exploited it, and father and son cooperated by embracing and kissing each other while the cameras were rolling.

But young Mancini’s career strayed beyond the warm and fuzzy plot. His style, which was never to retreat, meant that his fights were especially punishing. After one of the most brutal of Mancini’s bouts, his opponent, Duk Koo Kim, died of a blood clot in his brain. The three other boxers most often linked with Ray Mancini are Bobby Chacon, Alexis Arguello, and Hector “Macho” Camacho. Chacon is suffering from dementia brought on by the hammering he endured in the ring. Arguello died in 2009. The evidence suggests that he killed himself. Camacho was charged with felony child abuse last spring and turned himself in to the police.

Though Ray Mancini went through a loud and agonizing divorce and his post-boxing career in show business never really panned out, at least he’s not dead or under arrest. Mark Kriegel reports that Mancini forgets appointments a lot, but he does not seem to be otherwise dramatically compromised by his days and nights in the ring.

Kriegel’s biography of Ray Mancini is in part a story of a young man’s determination. Certainly that’s an admirable quality, though lots of readers may wonder why Mancini felt the only way he could “redeem” his father was to knock unconscious men against whom his father had no particular grudge.