Mari Īmura (飯村 真理, Īmura Mari) is a semi-recurring supporting character in Hajime no Ippo.
She is a reporter for the boxing magazine Monthly Boxing Fan. She is mostly seen with Fujii Minoru during public sparring matches and press conferences, but she does sometimes go off on her own to research background on some of Makunouchi Ippo upcoming opponents..
Her surname is Īmura. In Japan, surnames are listed before given names.
After hearing about Takamura defeating a bear, Mari went with Fujii Minoru to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym to find out more about it. When the other reporters leave, Mari was introduced by Fujii to the gym members. When Kimura Tatsuya offered her information and mentioned that boxers "like the ladies", Mari told him to not mind her and that she does not want special treatment just because of her gender. Aoki Masaru and Kimura asked her about her favourite boxers. After Mari mentioned a few popular boxers, they ask who she likes in Japan, which she claimed that there is no one to watch in Japan and watches boxing in Mexico and Las Vegas, claiming that the champions in Japan match up to four or six rounder boxers in the Mexico and Las Vegas area. Despite this, she comments on how Takamura is one of the few Japanese boxers that have the potential to rise to the top of the world. Mari then sees Makunouchi Ippo, who she began to get interested in.
Mari went to the Kōrakuen Hall to attend Takamura's title defence against Itō Takaaki. After Aoki and Kimura's match, Mari introduced herself to Ippo and Nekota Ginpachi, claiming that she is interested in Ippo. When Takamura's entrance began, Mari was impressed by the bear skin. The next day, Mari visited the Kamogawa Boxing Gym and waited for Ippo to return from roadwork. When Ippo returned, Mari commented on her further interest in him after watching videos of his matches, wanting to see him in action in a spar. However, without Kamogawa Genji's supervision, a spar is not possible. Mari decided to ask questions instead, however Ippo gave her boring answers until she asked which fight gave him the greatest impression on him, which was his fight against Date Eiji, surprising her. Her last question was why he started boxing. When Ippo mentioned he was asked about it before, Mari decided not to ask if other reporters already asked. She then asked for an autograph, since she believed his autograph could be worth some money in the future. Ippo decided to do it after being talked into it.
Mari went to Osaka in order to interview JBC featherweight champion Sendō Takeshi before his title defence against Ippo. When she arrived at the Sendō Shop, Mari met Sendō's grandmother. The grandmother requested Mari to wait, as Sendō had left to run. Mari began to interview Sendō's grandmother instead about Sendō's past. Mari got confirmation from the grandmother that Sendō lost his parents and she raised him by herself. Mari then asked how the grandmother raised him. After hearing the story of Sendō's past, Sendō himself entered his home. Mari then learned about Sendō's leg weights, even trying them on herself for reference material. After Sendō explained the benefits of the ankle weights, Mari asked Sendō if he heard the rumours of Ippo having defeated five opponents with KO's in five days. Sendō then invited her to see him spar for herself.
When they arrived at the Naniwa Boxing Club, Yanaoka claimed that the spar session would be a three-man spar, with Sendō's opponents being in-fighters of higher weight classes. When Mari mentioned the Dempsey Roll, Yanaoka claimed that he had no specific strategies to beat the Dempsey Roll, shocking Mari. After Sendō knocked out the first opponent, Yanaoka mentioned about Sendō's previous matches against Ippo and Volg that in terms of power they are better, but Sendō always lost close range. After thinking it over, he realised the key was weight shifting that was when he saw the limits to brawl boxing. So he had Sendō run more and more to create a strong lower body. He told her about Sendō's plan for Ippo was just a heads on duel, where they will take on the Dempsey Roll or anything else and keep standing. After hearing that, Mari believed using the Dempsey Roll on Sendō was near impossible since it was an attack that relied on moving forward, and Ippo can't use it in the corner. So a head on duel actually a method to seal the Dempsey Roll.
Walking away from the gym, Sendō told Mari he waited a long time for his rematch with Ippo. Mari asked Sendō if he is scared of Ippo. Sendō told her that Ippo has terrifying punches, but above all else, he was afraid of losing. He mentioned that punches that rock him from head to his toes, his blood boils, and it excited him. When he previously lost, it was the greatest feeling ever, and he can't wait to continue it. As he left, he told Mari to give Ippo an message that he will be standing at the end. After Mari published her interview with Sendō, she stopped by Kamogawa gym to hear Ippo's thoughts on it. After expressing his thoughts, Ippo claimed to feel that they weren't really be fighting over the belt. When Mari heard that, she told Fujii that she that that she could have written a better article about Ippo, but they both said the same thing in a different way. She couldn't understand how they were able to create a bond in their previous match.. She asked Fujii on his opinion on the match, but he didn't know who would win. Mari didn't either, but expected it to end with a KO.
She later attended the match between Sendō and Ippo with Fujii. At the start of the match, she was shocked that Ippo used the Dempsey Roll on Sendō that knocked him down. Sendō was able to get up, and use what he shown in his previous spars. It turned into a hitting match over the course of the fight. She saw Ippo win it in the end with the Dempsey Roll. After the match, she told Fujii that it was hard for her since she didn't have the confidence to portray the match on paper. But Fujii told her to write what she saw and felt at the time, but she knew that without being told. Fujii was worried about Sendō, since he thought losing to the same man twice would cause his charisma to take a blow, and wound his pride. She asked him if he mention that Sendō would retire, but Fujii believed it would be hard for Sendō to face his fans that cheered for him.
As a request from Ippo, Mari went to the Kamogawa gym and gave him the video tapes of Mashiba Ryō's spars before his last title match. She told him that the opponents in it were not that great and may not help much, but Ippo thanked her for it and believed it will be of some use. She then commented how everyone at the gym are great friends with each other. Mari told Takamura that Ippo called her for the video and that she could picture him constantly bowing for it on the phone commenting how everyone at the gym are great friends with each other.
Later, she attended the title match between JBC junior lightweight champion Mashiba and Kimura with Fujii. They discussed how the match poster was calling the match an "Execution" making the ring seem like a crime scene. They noticed Kōrakuen Hall was sold out of tickets, which only Ippo and Mashiba are able to draw a huge crowd for different reasons. Mari noted Ippo brings in a younger crowd, who see themselves in him, and cheer for him, while with Mashiba, Mari thought they came to be frightened. She then watched the match. During the match, Fujii left to talk to Kimura's parents. When Kimura finally landed a hit in the seventh round, Mari told Fujii to come back and watch. After Mashiba won, she was disappointed that she couldn't get Mashiba's comments on the match, even though she believed it was a great match. When they headed to Kimura for a comment, he revealed that he planned to retire instead of a rematch.
When news about JBC featherweight champion Ippo fighting the former JBC junior featherweight champion Sanada Kazuki arrived, Mari thought Ippo's first defence was going to be difficult, but she wondered why Sanada would move up a weightclass after seeing Ippo's match against Sendō. Mari predicted the odds as 7 to 3 in Ippo's favour. Mari and the other reporters planned to greet the boxers, but Sanada was doing a closed practice at the Kinoshita Boxing Gym. Mari decided to go to the Imperial College of Medicine to interview Sanada instead. When Mari got there, she talked to Sanada, who told her that he was okay for interview as long it wasn't related to his new weapons since his trainer was very specific about it. Mari began to interview Sanada about why he started boxing with a medical background. After hearing his answer, Mari concluded that he started boxing for his own satisfaction and that he relinquished his belt and went up a weight class for something more dangerous. She warned him that Ippo's power is not easy to overcome, but he thought it was worth it. After the interview, Mari was surprised and realised that Sanada wasn't the normal sheltered little boy that she thought he might be.
Three weeks prior to the match, Mari and Fujii attended a public spar by Sanada. They saw Sanada spar a junior lightweight JBC third ranker. They were not sure he could force Sanada to show everything, but Dankichi told them they planned to show it all if the sparring partner can last to the end. During the spar, Sanada showed the Hien, and his palpation ability, however, he was unable to show his last weapon, as the opponent was knocked out before it happened. Later, She attended the weigh-in. Mari and Fujii then attended the sold out match for the Champion Carnival. She saw Ippo battle Sanada, where he was able to outlast Sanada and was declared the winner. After the match, Mari went to get Sanada since he was a doctor, telling him that Ippo had fallen asleep after the match, fearing that he might have brain damage. When Sanada checked him out, everyone was relieved that he was okay.
Mari went to the OPBF featherweight champion Arnie Gregory's spar. After he finished off his sparring partner, Mr. Sakaguchi mentioned they were taking applications for future opponents. Mr. Sakaguchi's further comments made Mari tell him about Miyata's strength and that Gregory, who's proud of his strength, will find himself spinning his wheels and the joke will be on Mr. Sakaguchi. Mr. Sakaguchi then mentioned a technique that they were holding back, the "Bloody Cross".
While Ippo was training for his second JBC featherweight title defence match against Yamada Naomichi, Mari visited the Kamogawa gym after interviewing Yamada. She revealed to Aoki, Kimura, and Takamura that Yamada is not planning to hold back and that he arrived to Tokyo. Mari then went outside to tell him information she gathered about Yamada. Mari first explained to Ippo how Yamada is an underdog who goes to the ring knowing they can't win. She revealed to Ippo how after only eight fights, Yamada achieved a title match in a shorter and more difficult path by challenging the strongest fighters of different gyms, and during his matches, took devastating damage against them. She ended by saying that Yamada was someone who decided to start boxing because he admired Ippo, and once he became a boxer, he made him his goal.
In the anime, Mari attended the weigh-in between Ippo and Yamada. Later, she watched the title match, questioning if the match would be as easy for Ippo as everyone thought it was due to their similar styles and that Ippo couldn't use his Dempsey Roll. The match ended in Ippo's victory.
When the WBC junior middleweight title match between champion Bryan Hawk and Takamura arrived, Mari and Fujii were at the Narita Terminal 1 when Hawk and Miguel Zale arrived from the United States of America to Tokyo. Mari attended the press conference for the WBC title match between Takamura and Hawk. After Miguel answered for Hawk, Mari asked for Hawk's true thoughts about the question of him being nervous facing Takamura. Hawk ignored the question and instead told her his hotel room number, asking to come visit at any time. Hawk's actions at the press conference made Mari and the rest of the reporters outraged.
When Ippo's fourth JBC featherweight title defence opponent was scheduled to be Shimabukuro Iwao, Mari and Fujii went to Okinawa to interview Shimabukuro. When they arrive, they saw him going into the ocean and not coming up for air for close to 13 minutes. They start to get worried, but the coach of the Mensore Okinawa Seaside Gym assured them to not worry. When Shimabukuro came back with a huge fish, Mari and Fujii asked him how he would defeat the Dempsey Roll as he claimed in a newspaper article. They became disappointed when they discover it was the coach's exaggerated words and was used for publicity. However, they find out from Shimabukuro that while he has no strategy against the technique, he has a belief it will be defeated, and defeating it would defeat Ippo. After ending the interview with Shimabukuro revealing his way of defeating the Dempsey Roll would be an exchange of blows, Mari realised with Shimabukuro neck muscles, he would last a while against Ippo and noted Shimabukuro's incredible respiratory system.
Mari and Fujii went to the Kōrakuen Hall for the weigh-in between Ippo and Shimabukuro. The reporters were surprised by Shimabukuro's muscles and were surprised even further when Ippo accidentally stripped himself naked. Leaving the building, they commented on how there is a second title on the line that may be more important than the champion's. Mari attended the match which resulted in Ippo's victory.
After Ippo's match against Shimabukuro, Mari went to Ippo's home, wanting to interview him. When she noticed Mashiba Kumi and Itagaki Nanako in his room being loud while he is asleep, she criticised them for being too loud. She then went through Ippo's photo album containing pictures of him as a student. Mari mentioned that based on how Kumi and Nanako are acting, they never made it far into their relationship with Ippo if they never been in his bedroom before. She then mentioned her interest in Ippo, sparking an argument between the three until Makunouchi Hiroko entered the room with tea. When Hiroko mentioned that when Ippo is like this, she tries to let him sleep as peacefully as she can, it made Mari, Nanako, and Kumi feel guilty, and they decide to leave.
When Takamura's next match was the WBC middleweight title match against David Eagle, Mari and Fujii went to the Narita Terminal 1 and witnessed Eagle's arrival to Japan, along with his comments to the press, seeing that the champion from America was nothing like Hawk, who came from the same country. Mari and Fujii attended Takamura, Aoki, and Kimura's weigh-in session with their opponents and also Takamura and Eagle's press conference at the Yokohama Arena.
Covering the East Japan Rookie King Tournament semi-finals, Mari went to the Sayama gym and talked to the Sayama coach while watching Itagaki's opponent, Makino Fumito spar. Mari learned from the Sayama coach how he has Makino train against bantamweights and lower to train against Itagaki's speed and that Makino adopted the Hitman Style himself. Mari also learned about Makino's situation with Tsuchiya Atsushi, a hospitalised patient. Wanting to know more about Makino, she talked to him after seeing him meet with Atsushi. Expressing her interest in learning about his fighting style and words, Mari was warned to watch where she steps, however she saw no problem with stepping on weeds. She listened as Makino compared himself and Ippo to weeds, how much they endure being stepped on, planning to be like Ippo who worked until he blossomed to a flower. Mari later went to the Kamogawa gym to reveal to itagaki all that she has learned about Makino.
When the East Japan Rookie King Tournament semi-finals arrived, Mari went to the Kōrakuen Hall with Fujii. Mari predicted an 8:2 ratio in Itagaki's favour against Makino. Seeing Atsushi in the crowd while in a wheelchair, Mari had the people blocking his view move so that Atsushi could see the ring. Mari watched as Itagaki defeated Makino in the second round by knockout. As Makino walked away from the ring and talked to Atsushi, Mari mentioned how Makino should be grateful that Itagaki was able to dodge Makino's fouls so that Atsushi couldn't see them. Mari watched Imai Kyōsuke's match against Terai Makoto, which ended in Imai's victory with a one round knockout.
Prior to Ippo's match against Kojima Hisato, in order to find out about Ippo's first match against someone from a higher weight class, Mari head to Nishikawa Boxing Gym to find information about Oda Yūsuke.
Mikami mentions to Mari that Oda retired after fighting Ippo, where he wasn't able to get back into the ring again because of his "condition". When Mari asks about Oda's condition, only to find out that Oda ended up putting on a lot of weight.
During the interview, Oda tells Mari that after he retired, he became a trainer since he felt motivated after his match with Ippo. However, when he thought it over, he realized he didn't have what it takes to compete with monsters like Ippo. When he realized that, it felt like a great relief lifted off of his shoulders. Once he didn't have to worry about his weight control anymore, he started eating more and more. Oda mentions to Mari that he knows Kojima pretty well, since they debuted around the same time and ended up sparring a lot, and he continues to explain some of Kojima's past.
After showing signs that Ippo might be punch drunk, Kamogawa told Ippo to rest and not training. However, Ippo wants to find a method to train with out training. Mari tells Ippo there is away for him to do it, but they need to go to a sporting good store.
Ippo takes her to Ōta Sports, and she tells Ippo about weight leg weights. She tells him it is something Sendo did prior to his match with him in order to strengthen his lower body.
Fujii's assistant mentions "Regardless of which approach you think is right, you can't deny that their choices made a difference in where they are now." When the crowd at the fight heard Imai wanted to fight Ippo, it became quiet. Minoru Fujii said Ippo was one of the most beloved athletes fighting out of Kourakuen Hall in recent history. The sudden loss was probably a lot for them.
The reporters start to debate on who would have won Ippo vs Imai match, but Fujii tells them to give it a rest. He notes that Imai used the past tense when he talked about wanting to fight Ippo, where he knows Ippo is gone. Fujii think they should give him his space. Leave him be and let him rest.
Mari wonders if this could really be the end for Ippo? She ponders, "Can he forget about boxing and enjoy a life without it? What if he can't? Even as we speak, could he be preparing to fight again?" While Ippo is heading home with Kumi from a date at the movies, they run into Mariwho is covering the Otowa Gym in the area. Ippo starts to talk about Imai, but Mari wants to ask Ippo somthing instead.
Before Mari asks it, Kumi steps in and ask her to refrain from talking about boxing. This is not the right time or place for that. Mari reply "I wasn't asking you." Mari wants to discuss boxing with Ippo, but Kumi doesn't want her to. Kumi believes that Ippo is doing his best to forget about boxing, and she doesn't want Mari to start trying to lure him back with that kind of talk. Mari disagrees with her, believing that even if Ippo wanted to forget it (about boxing), it's not like he ever could, and there is no reason for him to force it.
Kumi mention Mari needs to think how Ippo must feel, but Mari counters with is that what Ippo wants or what Kumi wants. Mari thinks Ippo has already considered all the issues and made up his mind about it. She is not trying to change Ippo's mind about retiring, but if he's just injured, then it is natural for Ippo to take some time off in order to heal.
Mari knows there is no reason for Ippo to forget about something he dedicated himself to for so long, and that he should be proud of it. Mari questions if Kumi just feel sorry for Ippo that he had to leave the ring because he may be punch drunk. She then asked Ippo about his current condition, and Ippo says he had headache which scares Kumi, but Ippo think it is because of a cold.
Mari then asked Kumi if she realizes what she might be getting into by being with him since she is a nurse. Kumi mentions that if anything happens, she is prepared to take care of Ippo. But she is glad that Ippo stopped before it came to that, since it would be too much for her to take of both of them (referring to Ippo and her brother).
Mari realized that Kumi was worried that she would have look after more than one badly injured person. Mari apologizes to Kumi, and says she won't mention boxing at all. Ippo then brings the subject back to boxing again, making Kumi shocked.
Mari comforts Kumi, and wonders how dense Ippo can be since Kumi was talking about looking after him long term, basically admitting that she wants to get married. She thinks Ippo really is useless outside of boxing. Kumi asks Mari what she think about Ippo, and she says she loves him, but as a Pro Boxer. Mari feels sorry for Kumi, and wouldn't want to compete against her (for now).
Mari is slim, has long, sleek black hair, and is bespectacled. She usually wears a jacket of some sort, pants (she was only seen once in a skirt), and heels. She has a pearl earring in each ear which seems to vary from hanging from her earlobe to being in her earlobe.
Mari is one of the more sophisticated female characters in the series. When she is first introduced, she comes across as a polite and cheeky woman, which misleads her co-workers into thinking she was not prepared for her duties as a boxing reporter. As Mari has stated, however, she is quite an aficionado of the sport, and has rarely been impressed by Japanese boxing. She has some experience reporting on boxing in other parts of the world, such as America and Mexico, where she claims to have seen some spectacular matches (presumably those of Ricardo Martinez). In many ways she is even more of a fan of boxing than Fujii.
Like Kamogawa and Takamura Mamoru, Mari possesses a keen eye not only for boxing, but for the character of the boxers themselves, which is where her real passion lies. She is the only character to have figured out Itagaki Manabu's secret challenge to Ippo and is usually the first to question the motives of other boxers, such as Sendō Takeshi and Kojima Hisato.
- Mari can speak Japanese, English, and Indonesian, often acting as a translator for others. It is possible she also speaks Spanish, as she has visited Mexico.
- Mari is the oldest of Ippo's three love interests, being three years older than Kumi, and seven years older than Nanako.