Eiji Date (伊達英二, Date Eiji) is a recurring character in Hajime no Ippo.
He played the initial small time antagonist during the events of Ippo's first national championship road.
He was a featherweight professional boxer before retiring and becoming a trainer affiliated with the Nakadai Boxing Gym. He was frequently referred to as the second best featherweight boxer in the world by "Super Champion", Ricardo Martinez, before his second loss against the latter, ending his career.
His surname is Date. In Japan, surnames are listed before given names.
Early Career and First World Title Match
Date married Date Aiko, a daughter of a wealthy family. They met after Date's first Japanese championship, noticing that Aiko had only been dragged along and was not initially interested in watching Date. Date was excited to impress Aiko, and sought the world championship to prove his strength to her.
He travelled to Mexico for his title match against Ricardo Martinez. He was, however, severely outclassed and was knocked out in the second round. It was during this fight that Date gained the scar across his nose. Upon arriving back to Japan, he discovered that Aiko, who had hidden news of her pregnancy, had suffered a miscarriage. With his boxing dreams shattered and guilty over not being there for his family, he retired from boxing. They would later have a son, Date Yuuji.
After his retirement, his brother found a job for him at his business company. It is made known that Date succeeded at his business career and is offered a promotion. However, he was plagued by his natural hunger for boxing. At one point, he had a dream where he won actually won the Championship and was proudly holding his son in the air, not Yuuji but the child was never born. Initially, he rejected these temptations and, in a rage, swept away his boxing trophies. Aiko was greatly upset by this gesture. She revealed that she had missed the man that Date was before Mexico, and that she wanted their son to have a figure he could look up to. Chastised by this, Date gives up his business career and returns to Nakadai Gym.
Date swiftly re-established himself in boxing, gaining the Japanese Championship for the second time. During this time, he defended his title multiple times and was linked to a return to the world stage. However, he becomes interested in the rising star, Makunouchi Ippo. Their first encounter in the ring was a sparring match in preparation for Date's title defense. Date comfortably controlled the sparring session and overwhelmed the younger Ippo with his new Heart Break Shot, but afterwards the damage inflicted by Ippo through Date's defense made it impossible for him to raise his arms to wash his hair in the shower.
Date's junior gym mate, Okita Keigo, challenged Ippo out of jealousy. Wanting to defend Date's honor and put Ippo in his place, Okita replicated Date's boxing style, even using the Corkscrew Blow. However, Okita is defeated, putting Ippo in contention for Date's title.
In the match against Ippo, Date displays his skill and experience, using the Neck Spin technique to nullify the power of Ippo's punches and confuse him. Despite this advantage, Ippo showed great fighting spirit and pushed Date to the limit. Date became reinvigorated with his youthful fighting style and spirit. He stunned Ippo with a Heart Break Shot, but despite being greatly weakened, Ippo fought to the very end. Another Heart Break Shot landed, and the towel was thrown to signal Date's victory.
Date relinquished the title belt after this match. Ippo lamented over never having the chance to fight Date again. Volg Zangief and Sendō Takeshi fought for the vacant title, with Sendou becoming the next Japanese Featherweight Champion.
Date's next match was a rematch against WBA World Champion, Ricardo Martinez. At age 30, Date knew this was his last chance. Martinez traveled to Japan for the fight. Both fighters had improved immensely since their last meeting, and Date took the lead in the first round. He then reached a milestone by surviving past the second round - the round he had been knocked out in their previous match. Date's strong spirit awakened Martinez's true boxing style. Date was completely unprepared by the raw aggression shown by Martinez. He had no opportunity to attack and was beaten to a pulp by the ninth round. Covered in blood, Date accumulated significant damage, including three broken ribs and a broken jaw.
Date's ploy, however, was to only aim punches at Martinez's head. He then feinted a Corkscrew Blow to the head, forcing Martinez to guard high, but redirected his punch to the Heart Break Shot. Martinez reacted to this with an Elbow Block, breaking Date's right fist. Despite having his weapons removed, Date continued to fight with only his left, Thinking back to how he wanted to impress Aiko, Date was filled with a second wind and fought with powerful right blows despite his broken hand. Date then lured Martinez into a perfectly timed Heart Break Shot. However, the damage to his hand prevented him from using enough power to stun Martinez. Martinez then knocked him out. Date earned a place as the boxer most respected by Martinez, and was carried away on a stretcher.
In hospital, Date was tended by his wife and son. Ippo visited him when he recovered consciousness. Grasping his hand, Date symbolically passed the baton to Ippo, signifying the end of Date's legacy as a boxer.
After his recovery, Date is known to have become a boxing trainer, and it has become a running gag in the series for his boxers to lose all their shown fights.
|23||LOSS||21-2-0||Ricardo Martinez||TKO||10(12), 2:14||1994-06-27||Tokyo, Japan||"REVENGE" WBA Featherweight Title Match|
|22||WIN||21-1-0||Jeff Brooks||KO||9(10)||1993-08||Tokyo, Japan||Took down WBA World Ranked 5th|
Advanced for next ranker
|21||WIN||20-1-0||Makunouchi Ippo||TKO||5(10), 2:32||1993-02||Tokyo, Japan||Retained Japanese Featherweight Title, Relinquishes Title|
|20||WIN||19-1-0||Unknown||KO||7(10)||1992||Japan||Retained Japanese Featherweight Title|
|19||WIN||18-1-0||Suzuki Toshio||TKO||1(10), 1:20||1991||Tokyo, Japan||Retained Japanese Featherweight Title|
|18||WIN||17-1-0||Hashiguchi Takeshi||KO||5(10)||1991||Japan||Retained Japanese Featherweight Title|
|17||WIN||16-1-0||Uetani Akira||KO||7(10)||1990||Japan||Japanese Featherweight Title Match|
|15||WIN||14-1-0||Sai Atetsu||KO||7(10)||1990||Tokyo, Japan||Comeback Match|
|14||LOSS||13-1-0||Ricardo Martinez||TKO||2(12), 1:12||1988-02||Arena México, Colonia Doctores, Mexico City, Mexico||WBA World Featherweight Title Match|
|13||WIN||13-0-0||Kue Valdez||KO||9(12)||1987-07||Unknown||Retained OPBF Featherweight Title, Relinquishes Title|
|12||WIN||12-0-0||Kinji Genji||KO||3(12)||1987-03||Tokyo, Japan||Retained OPBF Featherweight Title|
|11||WIN||11-0-0||Thompson Penyalous||Decision||12(12), 3:00||1986||Tokyo, Japan||OPBF Featherweight Title Match|
|10||WIN||10-0-0||Yamaguchi Shirou||KO||1(10)||1986||Tokyo, Japan||Retained Japanese Featherweight Title, Relinquishes Title|
|9||WIN||9-0-0||Arai Seizou||KO||7(10)||1986||Tokyo, Japan||Retains Japanese Featherweight Title|
|1985||Tokyo, Japan||Retains Japanese Featherweight Title|
|7||WIN||7-0-0||Furukawa Hideshi||Decision||10(10), 3:00||1985||Tokyo, Japan||Retains Japanese Featherweight Title|
|6||WIN||6-0-0||Otomo Koushi||KO||9(10)||1984||Tokyo, Japan||Japanese Featherweight Title Match|
|5||WIN||5-0-0||Alan Garcia||KO||3(8)||1984||Tokyo, Japan||None|
|4||WIN||4-0-0||Roland Hiyas||KO||3(6)||1983||Tokyo, Japan||None|
|3||WIN||3-0-0||Kinji Jinshoku||Decision||6(6), 3:00||1983||Tokyo, Japan||None|
|2||WIN||2-0-0||Gotou Masahiro||Decision||6(6), 3:00||1983||Tokyo, Japan||None|
|1||WIN||1-0-0||Tomonaga Akira||KO||1(4)||1982||Tokyo, Japan||Pro Debut|
|Preceded by||Title||Succeeded by|
|Uetani Akira||JBC Featherweight Champion|
Unknown - February, 1993
|Randy Boy Senior||OPBF Featherweight Champion||Unknown (eventually Arnie Gregory)|
|Otomo Koushi||JBC Featherweight Champion||Unknown (eventually Uetani Akira)|
|Unknown||All Japan Featherweight Rookie King||Unknown (eventually Okita Keigo)|
|Unknown||East Japan Featherweight Rookie King||Unknown (eventually Okita Keigo)|
Date first appears to be the average middle-aged man with a tall, well built body and tanned complexion despite his previous retirement from boxing. His black hair is grown short and styled neatly save for a few stray strands sticking out in several places. Date's iconic scar on the bridge of his nose is present, along with his ever present stubble. His eyes are black in color.
Prior to and during his second challenge against Ricardo Martinez, Date has messily grown his hair shoulder-length, his stubble having visibly thickened since last seen during his fight with Ippo. After his second retirement, however, Date is shown to have shortened his hair once again, recovering his original appearance.
Date shows the determination to go through great lengths to accomplish his goals and depicts the ideal image of a strong-willed man. However he is no where near stoic or serious, and has been shown to openly express his hearty and humorous spirit. He is good friends with Takamura and close to fellow featherweight Makunouchi, encouraging both to do well in their boxing careers after his second retirement.
In the ring, Date is shown to be serious, especially during his match against Ricardo Martinez. A flashback concludes that Date used to be naive and overconfident to a certain extent in the ring until his first defeat at the hands of Martinez. Though he states that his second match against Martinez had nothing to do with revenge Date is shown to be competitive and vindictive to a certain extent, determined to give Ricardo "one hell of a nostalgic greeting".
At home, he is a family man who cares for both his wife and son, who in turn supported him fully through his boxing career.
At his peak, Date was far and away, the second best featherweight in the world only behind Ricardo Martinez. He is a very well rounded fighter, his speed and power are just above average but his durability and skill are some of the best in the sport. Utilising his high level of skill, Date is adept at turning his head at the moment of impact reducing the amount of damage taken, a move that he used effectively to hand Ippo his first pro defeat. His finisher is the Heart Break Shot, a powerful corkscrew blow aimed at the heart which momentarily stuns opponents and leaves them open to punches.
Unofficially, there are two versions of Date. The version Ippo fought was a Date who had lost his confidence and had become cynical about taking on the world a second time. While he was able to deal with Ippo for most of the match in this mindset, it was only until he began looking at the match as a brawl in the later rounds that he won. This version of Date hearkens back to his younger days when he challenged the world. Though he does not brawl outright, he becomes almost entirely offence-oriented and focuses on overwhelming his opponent with combinations. This version of Date was able to easily defeat Miyata Ichirou, the current OPBF champ, in a spar, and gave Ricardo Martinez trouble in the early rounds of their second championship bout.
Date shares the same weakness as other well-rounded boxers in the series: he has no particular strengths. Most of his opponents are stronger or faster than him, some even both. As a result he is forced to rely on the corkscrew blow often. This reliance led to his loss against Ricardo and subsequent retirement from boxing.
- Morikawa Jyoji stated in an interview (included as a volume 61 extra) that Date was modelled after former real life boxer and OPBF Champion Ozaki Fujio.
- Date has either attended, participated in, or provided commentary for matches involving the Kamogawa crew more than any other supporting character in the series, lagging behind only Iimura Mari and Fujii Minoru.
- He has also been in attendance for all of Takamura's world championship bouts.
- The second version of Date is sometimes referred to as "Jesus Date" by fans, due to his appearance resembling Jesus and the (probably accidental) notion that he was "resurrected" to fight "El Diablo."