This Day in History (13-Nov-1982) – Ray Mancini defeats Duk Koo Kim causing Kim’s death on November 17 which led to significant changes in the Boxing

After compiling a 29–4 amateur record, Soth Korean Duk Koo Kim turned professional in 1978. In February 1982, he won the Orient and Pacific Boxing Federation lightweight title and became the World Boxing Association’s (WBA) #1 contender. Kim carried a 17–1–1 (won-lost-draw) professional record and had won 8 bouts by KO. He went to Las Vegas as the world’s (WBA) number 1 challenger to world lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom”Mancini.

The press reporter visiting Kim noted that Kim had written on the bathroom mirror, in blood, Live or Die. The fight lasted 14 rounds out of the scheduled 15 rounds. The bout was extremely brutal, especially for Kim, who had begun to wear down in the latter rounds after absorbing tremendous punishment from the champion. Kim surprised the boxing world by going toe to toe with Ray Mancini for 12 rounds. In the 13th round Mancini hit Kim 39 times without Kim being able to hit back. But Kim did not give up. In his culture stepping back was shameful. In the 14th round Mancini knocked Kim down. Second time Mancini hit Kim with a crushing right hand that caused him to fly toward the ropes and hit his head on the canvas.  Kim was able to pull himself back up but the referee stopped the fight and declared Mancini the winner. Kim was taken to the hospital. He was in a coma for 4 days and then died.

Out of the hundreds of recorded ring fatalities, Kim’s death was one of the saddest. Kim’s opponent, Ray Mancini, would never again be the same caliber fighter, and it was widely reported that he blamed himself for Kim’s death. Kim’s mother committed suicide three months after her son’s death by drinking a bottle of pesticide. The bout’s referee, Richard Green, consumed by guilt, also committed suicide shortly after the fight.

Boxing was never the same either, with the World Boxing Council (WBC) quickly deciding 15-round fights were too dangerous and cutting the championship limit to 12. Several years later the WBA and International Boxing Federation (IBF) would follow suit and by the time the World Boxing Organization (WBO) was formed in 1988, 12 rounds were the norm.



This Day in History (29-Oct-1960) – Muhammad Ali’s (Cassius Clay) 1st professional fight, beats Tunney Hunsaker

Muhammad Ali is considered one of the greatest athletes in boxing history. In his first amateur bout in 1954, he won the fight by split decision. Ali went on to win the 1956 Golden Gloves tournament for novices in the light heavyweight class. Three years later, he won the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions, and the Amateur Athletic Union’s national title for the light-heavyweight division.

In 1960, at Rome Olympics, Ali defeated Zbigniew Pietrzkowski from Poland to win the gold medal for USA. He soon turned professional with the backing of the Louisville Sponsoring Group. During the 1960s Ali seemed unstoppable, winning all his bouts with majority of them being by knockouts. He took out British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper in 1963 and then knocked out Sonny Liston in 1964 to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

Ali was doing some spiritual searching and decided to join the black Muslim group, the Nation of Islam, in 1964. At first, he called himself “Cassius X,” eventually settling on the name Muhammad Ali. Two years later, Ali refused to acknowledge his military service in the name of religion. He later cleared his name after a lengthy court battle. However, the boxing association took away his title and suspended him from the sport for three and a half years.

Returning to the ring in 1970, Ali won his first bout after his forced hiatus. He knocked out Jerry Quarry in October in Atlanta. The following year, Ali took on Joe Frazier in what has been called the “Fight of the Century.” Frazier and Ali went for 15 rounds before Frazier briefly dropped Ali to the ground, before beating Ali by decision. Ali later beat Frazier in a 1974 rematch. Another legendary Ali fight took place in 1974. Billed as the “Rumble in the Jungle,”. Ali fought the reigning heavyweight champion George Foreman at Kinshasa, Zaire. Ali defeated Foreman and once again becoming the heavyweight champion of the world. Perhaps one of his toughest bouts took place in 1975 when he battled longtime rival Joe Frazier in the “Thrilla in Manila” fight. Held in Quezon City, Philippines, the match lasted for more than 14 rounds with each fighter giving it their all. Ali emerged victorious in the end. Since his retirement, Ali has devoted much of his time to philanthropy.