Monthly Archives: September 2012
previously published on Buffalo SoapBox
On November 13, 1982, lightweight champion of the world Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini defended his title against Duk Koo Kim. The fight lasted fourteen rounds, but minutes after Mancini was declared the winner by TKO, Kim collapsed and fell into a coma. Three days later, as a result of a subdural hematoma, Kim was declared dead.
This fight alone had lasting effects on the sport of boxing, most notably that title matches were reduced to twelve rounds rather than fifteen, as well as a significant increase in the thoroughness of pre-fight medical exams.
The death of Kim, and his fatal injury being ruled the result of one punch, had a lasting effect on 21-year-old Mancini as well. Blaming himself, he traveled to South Korea to attend his opponent’s funeral and struggled to overcome his guilt and get back in the ring. Despite that, many sports writers have asserted that he was never the same fighter he was before Kim’s death.
But Mancini is a significant part of Buffalo’s sports history and not simply because he grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, a town built on the steel industry and feels a hometown kinship with the Queen City; and not because he’s proudly declared that “Buffalo was like a second home to me. I’d been going there since I was a kid.”
No, Buffalo plays a large role in Mancini’s boxing career because it was at Memorial Auditorium on June 1, 1984, that he lost his lightweight title to Livingstone Bramble. The build up to the Mancini-Bramble fight played out like a scene from Rocky III, and later Mancini himself would claim he had to fight Bramble again because the story of that rematch had already been told in the film. It had been written before it had happened and he had to make it come true. Leading up to their first fight, Bramble, of course, took on the role of Clubber Lange. Throughout the press conferences he provoked Mancini, and even his manager stoked Boom Boom’s anger by referring to him as a murderer to reporters for the Kim fight.
Bramble later regretted his behavior, admitting it was an act to unnerve Mancini and keep him angry, keep him off balance and charging forward. The tactic worked. After 14 rounds he was defeated by Livingston Bramble and spent the night in Millard Fillmore Hospital after receiving several stitches over each eye.
The two would face each other again in Reno, but Mancini would lose once more, this time in a 15 round decision. He would lose by one point on each of the three judges’ scorecards, and amidst the boos of the crowd that had believed he had earned his title back, Bramble would tell him that he loved him. Through the blood and cuts and swollen eyes, as the two men beat on each other for fifteen grueling rounds, Mancini never let up.
Now, in The Good Son, author Mark Kriegel has worked with Mancini to cut through the media hype surrounding the death of Duk Koo Kim, and the over the top hero and villain theatrics played up by fighters, managers and the press alike, and uncovers the man behind the fighter who struggled with guilt, depression and losses both in and out of the ring, but who never stopped fighting to build a life he could be proud to call his own.
What’s the point? I don’t mean it. Most of the time it’s said is more mumble than anything else. You’re not saying it because you mean it, either. You’re programmed to, it’s reflex. Saying ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes is equivalent to someone yelling ‘high five!’ and you slapping their arm; or ‘heads up’ and you duck in the most masculine totally not worried about what’s going to hit you in the face way. It’s reflex. It’s programming. It’s empty. What’s the point?
Isn’t there enough going-through-the-motions out there already? Don’t we already get up and go to work, ask the same questions, get shit from the same types of people? Do we need another instance where we’re continuing a behavior that gives us no reward simply for the reason that we’ve been taught to do so? It isn’t only that there’s no reward, but often times the good intent, the politeness that motivates us, isn’t even reciprocated. No, more than that. It isn’t even acknowledged. How often have you said it and gotten a blank stare? A wordless grunt? A turned back instead of a thank you? But why do it for thanks, for reward, you cry, one should offer this simple blessing only for the goodness felt from the act itself!
Right, fuck off.
If someone can’t even say ‘thank you’ when I say ‘bless you,’ then I take back my ‘bless you.’ You no longer deserve my blessings. And that’s what it is, right? It’s rarely God’s blessing anymore. It’s gone from ‘god bless you’ to just ‘bless you’ or ‘gablesya.’ No, the god is silent in the modern pronunciation.
You have sneezed and I have said ‘bless you.’ I have blessed you. Good job sneezing, it sounded good—that’s what I’m saying with that ‘bless you.’ And you can’t even say ‘thank you.’
Why am I still doing this? Do you think you just expelled a demon and need me to bestow God’s blessing on you? If you need me to bestow anything upon you, I gotta tell you, sneezing out a demon is the least of your problems. Maybe you think a demon is trying to sneak into you when you sneeze, I’ve heard of that one too. Same goes. If you’re coming to me to protect you against demons—coming or going—me saying ‘bless you’ is not what’s going to save you.
You know what? Your sneezes aren’t even real half the time anyway. Can you spell the noise your sneeze makes? Did you make a distinctive ‘choo’ sound? Then that shit ain’t real—cut it out. Stop wasting my blessings.
And your excessive sneezes? Knock it off. You sneeze twice and it’s over, got it? What am I supposed to do when you machine gun off seven sneezes in a row? How many bless yous is that? You know how many? None. You’re taking advantage. Your sneezes are bastard children and my bless yous are the welfare system. Well I’m done. I’m not supporting your irresponsible sneezing anymore.
Ask for blessings elsewhere. I’m taking mine back. Like Mouth at the bottom of the wishing well in the Goonies, I’m taking all mine back. I should be blessing myself anyway. I mean, you just sneezed—did you even cover your mouth? Did you do the vampire? So I’m done. From now on I’m keeping my insincere blessings to myself.