Ippo Makunouchi (幕之内一歩, Makunouchi Ippo) is the eponymous protagonist of Hajime no Ippo. He is a trainer, retired featherweight professional boxer from the Kamogawa gym, and a former reigning featherweight JBC champion. He originally started boxing to try and answer one simple question: "What does it mean to be strong?". Since then, he has formed a rivalry with Ichirō Miyata, Takeshi Sendō, Ryō Mashiba, a brotherly bond with Mamoru Takamura, Masaru Aoki, Tatsuya Kimura, and a deep trust for his coach, Genji Kamogawa, whom he aims to become a world champion for to honor the coach's teachings. After retiring from boxing, he has become a trainer, being a second for his gym mates while training Taihei Aoki and Kintarō Kaneda. 7.2 Real Fighting Hajime no Ippo: The Glorious Stage! Ippo as a young boy. Ippo was raised by his mother, Hiroko Makunouchi for the majority of his childhood because Ippo's father, Kazuo Makunouchi died early in his childhood when his boat crashed in a storm. During the time when his father was missing out in the sea, Ippo went everyday to the shore to wait for his return. He believed his father's words that upon his return he will never leave Ippo and Hiroko again.
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Although his father never returned, Ippo was able to satisfy himself that his father fulfilled his promise by finding the cap his father wore. After his father died, Ippo grew up assisting his mother with the family fishing boat business. During his school days, when ever something happened at school, he would come home, hiding his feelings by saying that he was okay. After being bullied by Masahiko Umezawa, Takemura and Matsuda, Ippo was saved by novice boxer, Mamoru Takamura, who drives the trio away. An unconscious Ippo is then taken to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym, where he is nursed back to health by Takamura. Before letting Ippo go, Takamura gave him the opportunity to punch a heavyweight bag with a drawing of Umezawa's face on it. After following Takamura's instructions, Ippo successfully performed a straight on the sandbag. Ippo's power was such, that the skin on his hand is peeled after hitting the sandbag. While bandaging Ippo's hand, Takamura noticed his well-built body and encouraged him to defend himself from the gang. Before leaving, Takamura gave him a video compilation of Mike Tyson's knockouts. Inspired by the videos, Ippo decided to become a professional boxer and requested Takamura's help in doing so.
Ippo losing to Miyata.
Thinking it was impossible for someone like Ippo to become a professional, Takamura told him that he would only agree to train him if he caught ten leaves falling from a tree midair with his jabs within a week. With much struggle, Ippo successfully caught ten leaves on the promised day with one hand, surprising Takamura and earning his acceptance. Ippo losing to Miyata. Believing Ippo to not be boxing material, Genji Kamogawa had him spar against prodigy out-boxer Ichirō Miyata, in order to see whether he could be accepted or not. Terrified at the idea of an actual fight, Ippo followed the advice of Takamura, who served as his second in the match. Using everything he had learned from Takamura, Ippo managed to get to the third round, surprising all witnesses. However, he fell into a trap and was caught by Miyata's counter. Despite losing the spar by knockout, Ippo's great determination earned him Kamogawa's respect and acceptance. Realizing Ippo's potential, Kamogawa decided to have him fight Miyata again, to see how much they can improve in three months.
In order to face the counter that defeated him, Ippo learned how to perform an uppercut, and worked on a strategy to lure Miyata in. However, after a conversation with Miyata about what motivated him to fight, Ippo decided that he does not want to run away from the counter. After convincing Kamogawa, he went through intensive training in order to face the counter head-on. Ippo winning against Miyata. Ippo faced Miyata, who, unlike before, became desperate after realizing just how much Ippo had evolved in three months. With both fighters scoring multiple downs, and Ippo's strategy against the counter working as planned, they got to the fourth round. In this final round, Ippo threw his newly acquired uppercut in an attempt to end the fight, but seemed missed. It was this uppercut that caused Miyata to go down and unable to get up, making Ippo the winner. Minoru Fujii revealed, that Ippo's uppercut, indeed landed by barely a centimetre, making Miyata lose control of his legs, despite still being conscious. The result of the second spar, caused Miyata to leave the gym in order to be able to face Ippo as a professional in the future. Before parting ways, they each promised to make it to the East Japan Rookie King Tournament and settle the score.
With Miyata's departure, Ippo lost a goal to fight for and no longer showed his characteristic enthusiasm. In an attempt to solve this problem, Kamogawa ordered him to follow Takamura's training routine, with hopes of him realizing just how difficult a boxer's life really is. Kamogawa's attempts proved to be successful, as Ippo understood by watching Takamura going through his training schedule with such energy despite suffering the effects of his weight management. After regaining his motivation, Ippo applied for a professional boxing license. Despite easily passing the written test, Ippo was extremely nervous before the test fight. However, his opponent's level of skill, proved to be much inferior to Miyata's, which made it easy for Ippo to defeat him. Also applying for a license there, another newcomer, Ryō Mashiba, threatened Ippo by advising him to switch weight classes, as they would face each other in the tournament otherwise. Ippo vowed that he will not, as he has a promise to fulfill with Miyata.
After Umezawa takes Ippo's boxing license, Ippo defended himself and took it back, earning the bullies respect. After Ippo received his boxer's license, Kamogawa announced that his opponent for his pro debut would be Yūsuke Oda. When the match began, Ippo had the advantage until in round two, when Oda grazed Ippo near the eye and caused a cut to appear. This caused the doctor to almost stop the match. The third round, Oda went straight for the cut, trying to make it bleed again, Ippo switched to southpaw and eventually knocked out Oda with a series of jabs, thus winning the fight. As a celebration, Kamogawa left money, which Ippo and the others used to celebrate at the Sugar Ray. Ippo's second match is scheduled and his opponent's name is Yoshio Fujiwara. When the match begins, in round one, Fujiwara deliberately headbutted Ippo. After the next headbutt, Ippo noticed that Fujiwara was doing it on purpose. Fujiwara then began to headbutt Ippo again, but the latter knew it was coming and threw an uppercut that knocks out Fujiwara, making Ippo the winner. After school, Umezawa introduces Ippo to a group of delinquents, Umezawa then started calling Ippo his friend. Ippo celebrated his first year at the gym at the Chūka Soba. At the Kamogawa Boxing Gym, Yagi and Kamogawa announced the line up for the Rookie King Tournament. Ippo's first opponent would be Jason Ozuma.
After getting back up, Ozuma threw multiple punches to Ippo, winning the exchange.
After hearing about Ozuma's devastating right hook, Ippo trained to dodge hooks by having Takamura throw hooks for him to dodge and Ippo using hanging bars to act as a punch to dodge. At the weigh-in, they met for the first time, to Ippo's surprise, Ozuma was a kind man. The match against Ozuma began, and in the first round, both Ippo and Ozuma were on the same pace, dodging each other punches, however Ippo was hit by one of Ozuma's hooks and went down. In the second round, Ippo went down due to a hook. After exchanging punches, Ozuma threw a large hook, Ippo dodged and threw a body blow, knocking Ozuma down. After getting back up, Ozuma threw multiple punches to Ippo, winning the exchange. Ippo, running out of options near the rope, saw an opening as Ozuma threw a hook, Ippo dodged and threw an uppercut and a combo that knocked out Ozuma, winning the match. After school, Ippo watched Miyata's match against Teruhiko Takada.
There, he also saw a girl who was looking for a seat and dropped her ticket in front of him. After Miyata's win, Ippo was surprised with how much Miyata has gotten better since their spar. Later, Ippo went to Yamanaka Bakery and saw the same girl who he saw during Miyata's match, working at the bakery. At Kamogawa Boxing Gym, Fujii arrived with a tape of Ippo's next opponent, Kenta Kobashi. As Ippo watched the tape, he noticed Kobashi clinches and had weak jabs. He then watched a tape of Ryūichi Hayami, who used his Shotgun technique to batter his opponent with punches. Later, Ippo got an invitation to go to a training camp from Takamura, after accepting, he arrived at the training camp. There, he did multiple training exercises, running in the sand, shadowboxing, sparring, dodging tennis balls. After the training camp, at the Kamogawa Boxing Gym, it was revealed that Ippo's match against Kobashi was before Takamura's match. As Ippo left the gym, he noticed someone staring through the window. The person ran and dropped his journal, Ippo picked it up and caught up to him, immediately he found out it is Kobashi. When he found out Kobashi was observing, he started watching videos of Kobashi's matches. When the match against Kobashi began, in the first three rounds, Ippo had trouble with Kobashi's left arm sticking out. Ippo was unable to hit him and was getting exhausted as Kobashi kept clinching. In the fourth and last round, Kobashi began to throw more punches than usual, hoping for a KO win after hitting with s clean one-two, Ippo saw an opening and threw a clean hit to the face that downed Kobashi.