Lenny Mancini was an outstanding amateur in Youngstown, Ohio during the depression era decade of the 1930s. He went to New York City in the late 1930s to fight for manager Frankie Jacobs, and local ring standouts Tony Janiro, Tommy Bell, George (Sonny) Horne, Joey Carkido, Frank Lentine and Joe (Red) D’Amato ultimately followed. It was this group of local fighters that became part of boxing history, at a time considered by many to be the greatest era of the sport.
A muscular 5’2″ lightweight, Mancini became the little guy’s hero. He earned the moniker of “Boom Boom” early in his professional career from the avid New York boxing fans who loved his relentless attacking style.
On November 11, 1941, Mancini defeated Canadian Lightweight Champion Dave Castilloux in Montreal by a ten-round split decision. “Mancini was the perpetual motion kid himself,” one newspaper reported. Always popular with the fans, Mancini was given a standing ovation when the decision was announced. The win established him as the No. 1 contender for Angott’s crown.
Negotiations for a title fight were under way when, on January 15, 1942, Mancini was drafted into the Army. His manager told him to request a 30-day furlough so he could get his long-awaited shot at the title. Mancini even offered his entire purse to the Army. Selective Service’s answer: We want you, not your money.
He became an infantryman and on November 11, 1944, he was hit by mortar shrapnel in Metz, France. Shrapnel, six fragments in all, tore through his back, arm and leg. Physicians were able to remove only four. He spent six months recuperating. At the end of June 1945, he was discharged from the Army with a Purple Heart.
After recovering from his injuries he resumed his boxing career, now in the welterweight and middleweight divisions. However, he was unable to establish himself and retired after consecutive points losses to Harry Hurst and Rocky Castellani, with a final record of 45-12-3.
His dream of a world title happened for his son, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, who knocked out Arturo Frias in the first round to win the WBA World Lightweight Championship on May 8, 1982. Lenny Mancini was ringside to see his son’s accomplishment.
He was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, posthumously, in 2016.