Live or Die: Ray Mancini vs. Duk Koo Kim

Live or die, baby. Ain’t no in-between.

We’ve all got to eat a little shit every now and again, that’s life, but we have a choice of how much shit we have to eat.

Regular Joe eats a shit sandwich for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Winner Wolf makes a vow to never eat shit again. You go to work for someone else, you enrich someone else, you give your time to someone else, and for what? More shit for dessert.

“Oh, but I don’t have a choice! I have bills to pay!”

You have bills to pay because you chose them. You’ve got debt because you chose it. You eat shit because you went to the all you can eat buffet of life and instead of eating the Ribeye that takes 10 minutes to cook you settled for shit.

You want something more you have to work for it. End of story. You want something you have to go and get it, and all the bullshitting and excuse making in the world won’t give it to you. You want it? Go take it. You’ll probably have to suffer a little bit until you get it. So what.

Everybody gets to eat shit. Shit is free for anyone who wants to eat it. But then again all you have to do is spit it out. You get crybaby whiners whining about how they don’t have step by step instructions to remove the shit from their mouths. It don’t work like that, bub. It’s a choice you make and that’s all it is.

Write a note to yourself: “Live or die“, and sign it in blood.

In 1982 a reporter went to a hotel to interview a young South Korean boxer named Duk Koo Kim. Kim was in town to fight a championship bout with the American champ Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. Kim was the #1 contender but he had never faced an opponent as tough as Mancini. The reporter 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. Duk Koo 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 twice, the second time Kim was knocked down he was able to pull himself back up but the referee stopped the fight and declared Mancini the winner. Duk Koo Kim was taken to the hospital. He lay in a coma for 4 days and then died.

After Kim’s death they found his journal, as read by his fiance, Mae Lee:

Describing the early days of her romance with Kim, Lee says, “It was love at first sight for him, so he used to chase after me. At first he asked me for a cup of tea, and after that he called for dates. That was in the fall of 1981, so the memory is not so clear. In the beginning I didn’t like him too much because he was a boxer. He was serious, but I wasn’t ready for a relationship. He kept on calling, but I turned him down. Finally he wrote me a letter.”

She finds the letter and says, “It begins, ‘When a man cries because his heart aches, the whole world cries.’ Eventually I began to like his personality. He was very strong, very brave, manly and well-mannered. I visited where he lived—it was a poor area.” He lived with a friend, the boxer Bong Sang Lee, in a room where Kim hung framed pictures of his fights on the wall and kept a scrapbook, his most valued possession. He also wrote slogans and pinned them up. One of them read, POVERTY IS MY TEACHER. It was written in blood. Lee says, “He showed me his journal.”

The journal, which he was keeping at the time of his death in 1982, began with an apology. “With a mixed feeling of fear and excitement, I am afraid that, hardly knowing how to spell, I may become a laughingstock for writing this story…. On my second birthday my father passed away. Soon after, I suffered a disease which almost killed me…. My mother, Yang Sun Nyo, was a woman of great misfortune; she married four times…. Leaving me in her sister’s care in Seoul when I was only an infant, she took all sorts of jobs, including a housemaid, but without much success. Come to think of it, she was only 25. No one can blame her for trying to seek happiness by remarrying. My childhood dream was having a bowl of hot rice.”

Lee read how Kim’s mother left her third husband, a bean curd peddler, because his grown son was cruel to her. Taking her two young sons, she walked a great distance and finally arrived in a fishing village, where she begged for food for her boys. There she met and married her fourth husband. He had three sons, who became Kim’s brothers. Kim wrote, “One new brother used to drag me around, forcing me to fight with other village kids. The older kids enjoyed watching our fights, and I despise them even today for it. At the age of six I was learning to fight…. In those childhood days I could see the red sun rising from the ocean’s horizon. I planned my future while watching the sunrise and the bright sunlight. I always repeated to myself that I shall live to make it big…. I used to catch and eat scallop and fish and swim out far, far away…. When autumn came, we used to catch locust to fry and eat…. In winter we’d go wild-rabbit hunting. With a stick in our hands, we’d climb a snow-covered hill where there were so many wild rabbits. Or we’d go sledding on frozen rice paddies. But there were more days of hardship than fun.”…

…When I was ignored or humiliated,” he wrote, “I felt an unbearable anger. Even these days, I simply cannot stand being looked down on. Back then, I was not thinking about the consequences of my action. I never had a happy home, and I was deeply unsatisfied. And every now and then, I would become uncontrollably angry.”

“I know I cannot afford to be lazy…. I must create ‘something’ in order to realize my great dream…. I never liked my mother very much as a kid. I had wanted her to raise me on her own. I guess I was too young to know…. But now I understand my mother and feel sorry for her. That’s why I want to be a good son and bring her happiness. In order to do that, I must reach the top…. A country boy named Kim Duk Koo will show the world something…. I shall run and fight until I am covered with blood and sweat.

Duk Koo Kim died but he died with honor and dignity. He made up his mind, Live or Die, and he meant it. He never backed down, he only moved forward. No one thought he was a great fighter, even his coach didn’t believe in him at first, but Kim won 14 of his 15 pro fights and earned the top spot to fight for the championship and he did it through will and spirit. He lasted 14 rounds with Ray Mancini, he had never fought such a long fight before, through will and spirit and determination and the last time he was knocked down (and basically killed) he STILL GOT UP. Kim wasn’t really ready for the fight, but when that chance comes along saying “no” is impossible. Live or die 100%.

I used to drive around in my Chevy pickup truck listening to a song called Duk Koo Kim by a band called Sun Kil Moon.

It’s a 14 minute song so I’d find myself taking the long way home to finish the song. One line in particular I just couldn’t get out of my head.

I’d rather leave this world forever, baby, than let life go the way it’s going“.

So I made the change. I made the decision to stop eating shit. The decision to only go for what I want and never take a job, never do any bullshit I don’t want to do. I’ll sooner die than go back to the shit-eaters world. Simple as that. And I never had it as tough as this Korean fella Duk Koo Kim.

“You never know what day could pick you, baby

out of the air, out of nowhere” 

It’s just a decision, friend. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it don’t. But we all die and that’s our only guarantee. But how you will live and what you will accomplish, that’s what counts.

See you next time.

-Victor Pride


Read more about Duk Koo Kim:

You may also like

Did you like this post?

Join 20,000+ other subscribers and get FREE updates about how to kick more ass. Enter your email address below and hit GO, we will never share or sell your email address with anyone...


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    • says

      I agree, one of the best post yet!

      I wish he would have won the fight though.

      I like the idea that “We’ve all got to eat a little shit every now and again, that’s life, but we have a choice of how much shit we have to eat.”

      Life gives us infinite tries to make it and when we make it the shit eating ends. At least there is an end in sight for us as opposed to the working man who lives in “quite desperation.”

      Thanks Vic!

    • Lynn says

      There is a great new documentary about this subject on tunes and on video on demand titled “the good son the ray Mancini story”. It is getting tremendous reviews and finally tells the whole story including the reunion between the Mancini and Kim families.

  1. JP says

    Wow. I knew about the fight and how tragic it was (both Kim’s mom and the referee later committed suicide), but didn’t know much about Kim. While he was Korean (not Japanese), he nonetheless had the Samurai spirit for sure.

  2. says

    Wow, this is so true and inspirational.

    If you want something, you need to go get it. You can either set sail on your journey to accomplishing your goals or you can just stay on land and be like everyone else. Simple as that.

  3. Tony says

    I am moving away from home to go to university and will put up phrases written in my own blood in my tiny one room appartment hundreds of miles away from home. Just like Duk Koo Kim did.
    “Poverty is my teacher.” Thank you Victor. Thank you for inspiring an 18 year old kid.

  4. says

    That sent chills down my spine and I felt manly tears welling up inside me. What a courageous man he was. Thanks for the story – I wasn’t aware of it.

  5. says

    “You get crybaby whiners whining about how they don’t have step by step instructions to remove the shit from their mouths. It don’t work like that, bub. It’s a choice you make and that’s all it is.”

    Awesome. This opened the gate for me. Anything worth doing doesn’t come with instructions. You just decide to do things differently and force yourself to figure it out as you go. Asking how to be a winner is like asking what it’s like in a foriegn country. You just have to go.

  6. David says

    Damn… that hit home this morning.

    Thanks for sharing Vic and for continuing to inspire and push your readers to achieve what we know damn well what we should be going after.

    Someone hand me some mouthwash; I’m tired of this shitty aftertaste I keep getting from life. It’s time to dine on some better cuisine, even if it does take a little longer to “cook”.

  7. Kobi says

    Man, every time I think “that’s it, this post is his magnum opus” you surprise us by producing another gem. The thing is that while your writing is brilliant it’s straight forward, no fluff. And not all that original (not a criticism, there’s no new ideas under the sun). You just happen to have perfected the craft of grasping the truth and delivering it in a way that feels like a sucker punch. That makes yours the realest blog I know of.

    Hats off, Vic. May your site grow and grow.

    • Alvaro says

      This is the part that pisses me off:

      “Oh, but I don’t have a choice! I have bills to pay!”

      Shit eaters complain about how shit their life is, and how they eat shit all the time. But when you tell them that you would rather do something different, they tell you to stop being stupid and keep on eating shit.

      “Oh, you’ll see when you have to ask your boss for an advance in order to pay your bills”

      I had someone tell me that exactly. So, fine, you want to live a miserable life eating shit. Why would you wish that upon someone else?!

      • says

        Yes, this is partly due to social conditioning. We are trained to eat shit from a very young age. In fact, I’m eating it right now while posting this response.

        The amount of shit one eats is directly proportional to the degree of supplication one decides to endure.


  8. says

    “The decision to only go for what I want and never take a job, never do any bullshit I don’t want to do. I’ll sooner die than go back to the shit-eaters world. Simple as that.”

    POWERFUL and thanks! That’s now written in the front of my to-do list notebook.

    “I understand my mother and feel sorry for her. That’s why I want to be a good son and bring her happiness. In order to do that, I must reach the top.”

    Tian Mu has said this about his Mother and his purpose. So far, he’s caused paradigm shifts in high caliber games.

  9. Yazz says

    Great Post Vic, I’ve been reading your stuff for a while now and I appreciate you none “BS” to the point writing style. This is a story I was unaware of till this morning, after reading it I felt the need to find all I could on Duk Koo Kim, And boy was this guy a bad mother fucker. Talk about putting it all on the line including yourself for something you believe in. I make a promise, and commit to the Bold and determined family, to go all in. we really need to start going all in with (appropriate preparation) in what we believe, all else is failure.

    P.S There’s a Documentary I found called The Good Son.

  10. Steven James says

    Hey Vic,

    Kick ass article! Do or Die!

    Quick question, in a couple articles you mention that you worked a 9-5 job due to debt. Since I’m in the same situation, I still need to pay off student loans still, would you recommend sticking with 9-5 job until the debt is gone while planning my exit strategy or just forgetting the 9-5 job and going straight into being an entrepreneur with the debt? The debt would probably require a year of working 9-5 to get paid off.

    • Victor Pride says

      Yeah, I worked and eaked out by paying the minimums. Then I made real money and paid off my debt in an afternoon. Make a big score (as in make real money) and debt goes bye bye very fast.

  11. says

    This is a fantastic article. Incredibly inspiring story.

    Coincidence, as I was reading this piece my dad walked in and started talking about whether or not I was looking forward to getting into the old routine of appreciating Friday’s, due to working all week at school. I simply laughed and told him no, and that everyday was a Friday for me.

    (He’s unhappily married for twenty years with a dead-end job).

  12. ken says

    Thanks Vic for a very inspiring story! I can’t believe I’ve never ever heard of such a story before. This is without a doubt one of the most inspirational and sad stories I’ve ever read.

  13. Alexei G says

    There’s one thing that all Great People share – and that is passion for Life and contempt for Death !

    Great post Vic!

  14. says

    Hey Victor. This is a great article. i actually felt goose bumps all over my skin and an anger to continue with my struggle to make it. Cant wait for the next article. I guess we all have something written in our blood. You choose to either stay in your comfort zone and be like everybody else or get up and make a change. Supporting you all the way from South Africa – Zimbabwe. Thanks Vic and lets keep making things happen.

  15. Kevin Wang says

    Been lovin reading this blog so far! Do you have a book about living in thailand or can you refer me to a good resource? Thanks man!

  16. Stephan says

    O my fuck!! every post on this site is the best! you really changed my life man! Thank you! although shit and opportunity’s are slightly different here in Cape Town i still changed for the best! went through shit long enough! YEAH BUDDY! LIGHT WEIGHT BABY!

  17. says

    Great fucking article.

    I totally remember that fight ask was 10 yrs old at the time…and cable just came out and I watched that fight.

    I couldnt believe the courage of Kim. Wow.

  18. LiveorDie says

    This is the first post on B&D that has brought me very close to tears. Was welling up inside when reading this.

    Vic, as a man, do you think it is appropriate for men to cry? And I don’t mean the pussy cry-baby sort of cry.

    • The Grizzly says

      So let me get this right. You are asking another man if its ok to cry????

      I swear these beta males need to be banned, their posts run counter to what this site stands for.

        • The Grizzly says

          NO I call it the way I see it, wimp. You taking offense to being called a beta male means you are one. It takes an offended beta male like yourself to take up for another beta male over a beta male post. Do us a favor you sissy, go back to playing video games. Pussy.

    • David says

      It depends on the situation, as it should be obvious. When my brother was diagnosed with cancer I cried the “pussy cry-baby sort of cry”, so yes a man can fucking cry, everybody does. If you feel like you want to cry, holding your tears is not what will make you more or less of a man.

      • The Grizzly says

        The point is dumbass, did you go ask another man if it was ok to cry?


        • David says

          Ahaha hey “Grizzly” chill the fuck out. I’m not standing for anyone. I just don’t like people who act all superior and then have nothing to back up their attitude. Besides, looking at how seriously you’re taking my words, I can’t help it but think you’re the one who’s little feelings got hurt. I suggest you change your user name to teddy bear, it would be more fitting. And don’t expect more replies, as I look to this site as a place of maturity and respect, and this kind of arguments only prove its readers to be otherwise.

    • Justin says

      Sigh. Here’s the simple truth: Humans are pack animals. Pack animals only ever have one alpha at a time, although they usually have a pecking order following that. Coming here to follow Vic’s advice is the equivalent of dubbing him the alpha. You seek direction from your leader. Deal with it.

      Which is why we get questions like this. To survive in the pack, LoD wants to know the pack rules, so he’s not treated as a leper and cast out. Which ironically, asking permission to do something is against the pack rules as it’s considered a sign of weakness. Yay nature!

      Seriously though, it’s not that complicated. Men focus on their achievements and conquests, but still have emotions. Yes, of course you’ll cry sometimes. The problem is when men focus entirely on their emotions and eschew accomplishment.

  19. says

    Boxing is full of great stories. Sugar Ray robinson once refused to go to the match because he had a dream that he will kill his opponnent. He refused to step into the ring. Only after priest came and assured him that it was just a dream (and blessed him) he went to the fight and really killed his opponent. Ali vs Foreman , Ali with beggining alzheimer encouraged and taunted foreman to punch him harder – Come on George is it all You got ? Even my grandmother hits harder. After Foreman lost mustard in his punches ali knocked him out with epic combination. I also encourage everyone to watch Gatti vs Ward fights if You want to see true heart and guts – just dont watch highlights watch the whole fight to understand story. Thank You for your article Victor.

  20. Matt Hirsch says

    Great post Vic! Just wanted to let everyone know that the new documentary, The Good Son: The Life of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini is now on iTunes

    The film profiles the fight between Mancini and Duk Koo Kim.

  21. says

    Hey Vic,

    Just curious as to how and who opened your eyes to escaping the 9-5 jive and perusing the entrepreneurial pursuit. You have a real sense of personal culture which is easily defined in your writing. Could you reveal any of the sources that perhaps moulded you to think as the man you are today? What got you up off the couch?

    Jordan Flynn

    • Victor Pride says

      I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, I just didn’t know how. I was 18 and buying those get rich quick schemes via mail order. For the longest time I thought to be an entrepreneur you had to be an inventor, so I’d sit at home with a pen and paper trying to invent things. Never happened. I hated my jobs but I just didn’t know how to get out. And one day I found my salvation, I was surfing the net learning how to buy a house and I stumbled on real estate investing. Wide eyed and open mouthed I studied for two months. After 3 months I was a full time RE investor never to have to work again.

      What molded me? I ask myself why I’m different all the time. No one in my family is a go-getter. I’ve tried to get them to do it but they won’t. To be honest, nothing got me off the couch because I’ve always been the way I am. I’ve always hated working for other people. Some might say I have a problem with authority. I don’t, as long as I’m the authority. I just needed that one spark (re investing) and I was off.

      3 Must read books that changed my life:
      1) Think and grow rich
      2) The four hour work week
      3) The millionaire fastlane (I have only recently read this book but it’s become a top 3 for me. I was in the middle of the ocean touring islands and my mind was on the book and I had an epiphany, to be shared later.)

      Check the approved resources page to purchase these great books.

  22. lucy says

    Wow, so after all, despite what you wrote recently – A JOURNEY COUNTS!!! You lost it man… Stop writing this bullshit. Please, be so kind and be the one, who does not feed us with shit, as the article is actually about… And I am sure that the world would be in the same place with people thinking exactly like you: no job, just take whatever you want…

    • Victor Pride says

      “just take whatever you want…”

      I’ll bet you think about me taking what I want every night, don’t you juicy lucy?

    • JGV says

      It’s not that the journey doesn’t count, but think of it this way, you’ll starve to death if you never make it to the dinner table and eat. Get it???

  23. says

    Hi Victor,
    Great article! I have a question in regards to muscle building. Teenage boys have an onset of testosterone during puberty. Would teenage boys be able to train with light weights, and work each muscle infrequently(once a week), and still be able to make gains that would be similar to a steroid user?

    • Victor Pride says

      During puberty or right after is the BEST time to start lifting weights, you can make unbelievable gains that will stay with you when you are older. Same as a juicer? No, not really, that’s a whole different ballgame, but much better for long term health and physique.

  24. says

    It is sickening what some individuals will complain about.

    This post, one of the best on Bold and Determined.

    You conveyed his story well Vic.

    Duk Koo Kim… One bad motherfucker.

  25. Justin says

    What you get from life is every bit what you take. Your strengths, flaws, where you’ve been, where you are… They’re just your starting point.

    There’s a long stretch of road I used to walk to go to a neighboring town. I’d leave at 11 at night, and arrive at 6 in the morning, just to prove I had the strength to do it. This same road, a few days ago a sixteen year old got hit by a truck. He’s a friend of a cousin of mine, and I don’t know him personally.
    What I do know of him, is that he was considered musically ‘talented’, had plenty of friends, was part of a band.
    Everyone thinks it’s tragic that he was robbed of his future- And it is, of course it is. Even so, my first thought was, “This kid died living.”

    It may not make it less tragic, but it’s a hell of a lot better than thinking,”He ate shit every day and cried about it.”

  26. Boom Boom says

    To say “in the 13th round Mancini hit Kim 39 times without Kim being able to hit back” is grossly inaccurate. Regardless.thanks for the very motivational website.

  27. GT says


    As a side note, it’s good to see someone else appreciates the music of Sun Kil Moon. You should do a post on good music like that.

  28. Jrid75 says

    My favorite B&D article, very moving and compelling, I wrote Live or Die on a piece of paper, signed it, and stuck it on my bedroom wall.