Mancini and Kim met in an arena outside Caesar's Palace on November 13, 1982. Mancini and Kim went toe to toe for a good portion of the bout, to the point that Mancini briefly considered quitting. Kim tore open Mancini's left ear and puffed up his left eye, and Mancini's left hand swelled to twice its normal size. However, by the latter rounds, Mancini began to dominate the young challenger, landing many more punches than Kim did. In the 11th he buckled Kim's knees. One sequence in the 13th round featured Mancini punching Kim 39 times in a row. Still, Kim rallied and landed a few weak punches by the end of the round, and referee Richard Green did not stop the fight. When the fighters came out for the 14th round, Mancini charged forward and hit Kim with a right. Kim reeled back, Mancini missed with a left, and then Mancini hit Kim with another hard right hand. Kim went flying into the ropes, his head hitting the canvas hard. Kim managed to rise unsteadily to his feet, but Green stopped the fight and Mancini was declared the winner by TKO nineteen seconds into the 14th round.
Minutes after the fight was over, Kim collapsed into a coma, and was taken out of the Caesar's Palace arena on a stretcher. Emergency brain surgery was performed at the hospital to try to save him, but that effort proved to be futile, and Kim died 5 days after the bout, on November 17. The week after, Sports Illustrated published a photo of the fight on its cover, under the heading Tragedy in The Ring. The profile of the incident was heightened by the fight having been televised live in the United States.
Kim had never had a 15-round bout before. He had been to round 12 only two times before his deadly last bout. In contrast, Mancini was much more experienced at the time. He had fought 15-round bouts three times, went on to round 14 once more. Kim compiled a record of 17 wins with 2 losses and 1 draw. Eight of Kim's wins were knockouts.
Four weeks after the fatal fight, the Mike Weaver vs Michael Dokes fight at the same Caesars Palace venue ended with a technical knockout declared 63 seconds into the fight. Referee Joey Curtis admitted to stopping the fight early under orders of the Nevada State Athletic Commission to be aware of a fighter's health in light of the Mancini-Kim fight, and a rematch was ordered.
Kim's mother flew from Korea to Las Vegas to be with her son before the life support equipment was turned off. Three months later, she took her own life by drinking a bottle of pesticide. The bout's referee, Richard Green, committed suicide July 1, 1983.
Kim left behind a fiancée, Young Mee Lee, who was pregnant at the time with their son, Chi Wan Kim, who was born in July 1983.
The WBC, which was not the fight's sanctioning organization, announced during its annual convention of 1982 that many rules concerning fighters' medical care before fights needed to be changed. One of the most significant was the WBC's reduction of title fights from fifteen rounds to twelve. The WBA and the IBF followed the WBC in 1987. When the WBO was formed in 1988, it immediately began operating with 12-round world championship bouts.
Additionally, on the recommendation of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the number of ring ropes was increased from five to six to prevent fighters from falling through the ropes and out of the ring.
In the years after Kim's death new medical procedures were introduced to fighters' pre-fight checkups, such as electrocardiograms, brain tests, and lung tests. As one boxing leader put it, "A fighter's check-ups before fights used to consist of blood pressure and heartbeat checks before 1982. Not anymore."
Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters has recorded several versions of a song named for Kim, most recently a version on the Sun Kil Moon album Ghosts of the Great Highway. It happens to be 14 minutes long, the number of rounds he lasted in his final bout.
I Couldn't Find My Dad, Panic Set in ... I Cried All the Way to the Hospital and Was Sent to a Bed Where the Guy Was Unrecognisable. I Reeled Back & a Voice said:'Son, Son, I'm over Here' SAYS STUART MCCALL
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