The Good Son is a great read.
It's clear by now that Mark Kriegel is the go-to guy when it comes to sports biographies. After the success of his books on Pete Maravich and Joe Namath, Kriegel's latest offering is the story of former lightweight champ Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini and his tragic fight against Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim.
Not only does the book examine Mancini's life, it reveals his soul. And Mancini has always been a good soul.
Long before Oscar de la Hoya, Mancini was boxing's matinee idol. He fought on Saturday afternoons on network television and it seemed that the entire country took every punch with him. He also had the back story. Mancini's father, a former contender, lost his chance at a title shot after getting wounded during World War II. That's all the networks needed to make Mancini a star. But there was so much more to Mancini's story than a good-looking kid with a terrific chin.
Kriegel gives you all of it. And more.
While the story deals mostly with Mancini and his father, it comes full circle with the reporting on Kim and the son he never met. Kriegel speaks to Kim's fiancée Young-mi Lee and her and Kim’s son Jiwan, who was born seven months after his father’s death.
The amount of reporting done by Kriegel to tell Kim's side of the story is impressive. That's part of what makes this book special, it pays the proper homage to Kim, who died shortly after being knocked out by Mancini in 1982.
The cast of characters in the book is fascinating. From Mancini's Youngstown buddies to manager Dave Wolf, you get to know them all. It was nice too see attention being paid to Wolf, who did a masterful job managing Mancini's rise to stardom. In his previous career, Wolf was an elite sports journalist, who was the sports editor for Life magazine and penned the classic Connie Hawkins book, "Foul." He passed away in 2009.
Even Alexis Arguello and Bobby Chacon get their due in this book.
But ultimately, Mancini is the force that drives you to keep turning the pages.