It was November 13, 1982, a Saturday. Christopher Tavlarides was 14 years old, growing up in DC’s Barnaby Woods neighborhood. He remembers racing from a playground back to his parents’ house to watch that afternoon’s CBS Sports boxing match— Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, the World Boxing Association lightweight champ who hailed from Youngstown, Ohio, was taking on South Korean challenger Kim Duk-Koo in a defense of his title.
“Ray was the matinee idol of guys like me,” Tavlarides says today. “He was the modern-day Rocky Balboa. I will never forget the fight. Kim Duk-Koo looked so tough. It ended up being a great fight that no one ever talks about—because someone died.”
That someone was Kim, who was knocked out by Mancini in the 14th round of an epic bout. Kim lapsed into a coma and died four days later. His death not only changed the sport—it also changed Mancini.
The story of Ray Mancini’s life before and after the fight is told in a new documentary, The Good Son, produced by Tavlarides and his friend and fellow Washingtonian Jimmy Lynn, and based on a book of the same name by Mark Kriegel. On January 31, Ted and Lynn Leonsis opened up their Potomac home—and recently renovated home theater—to 40 guests for a screening of the documentary. Ted Leonsis, majority owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Washington Capitals and the Wizards, and Jimmy Lynn, a sports marketing consultant, have been friends since their days at AOL. (They must be dear friends, since the screening was scheduled on the night of a Caps game.)
Among the VIP guests: Maryland congressman John Delaney and his wife, April; World Bank president Jim Kim and his wife, Dr. Younsook Lim; Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner and his wife, Judy; Bell Labs president Jeong Kim—a part owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards—and his wife, Cindy; Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and his wife, Desiree Jacqueline (D.J.); Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace and his wife, Lorraine; Kastle Systems’ Mark Ein; Roger Mody—a partner in Monumental Sports & Entertainment—and his wife, Kyle, executive director of the Mody Foundation; dermatologist Tina Alster and Paul Frazer, president of PD Frazer Consulting; Canadian Tire CEO Stephen Wetmore and his wife, Jann; and real estate developer Bob Kettler and his wife, Charlotte.
The Good Son is slated to make its debut on American television this Father’s Day.
“It thought it was more of a father-son movie than a boxing movie. I loved it,” said Ted Leonsis. The film explores the relationship between Ray Mancini and his father, Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini, who was also a boxer. It also brings a kind of closure to the Mancini-Kim story, with a meeting between Ray Mancini and Kim Duk-Koo’s son, whom Kim never met (he died before the boy was born).
“The idea that we were able to take Ray on this life journey in 18 months is incredible,” says Tavlarides, referring to how long it took to make the documentary.
And what did Ray Mancini, who was at the screening, hope that audiences will get out of the film?
“To be honest, I haven’t thought much about it,” he said. “Maybe a better understanding of what happened—not the fight itself, but the aftermath. Obviously, the fight with Kim is an important part of my life. But there’s more to the story.”