Minoru Fujii (藤井稔, Fujii Minoru) is a semi-recurring character in Hajime no Ippo.
He is a sports journalist, who works for the Monthly Boxing Fan. A veteran reporter with a keen eye for potential, Fujii is constantly following with his partners the careers of many Japanese boxers. While most other reporters cover only the most important events, Fujii is known to closely report on relatively unknown, upcoming boxers who are considered underdogs.
Before becoming a journalist, Fujii and Shinoda Tomoyuki were friends who were amateur boxers. He was an out-boxer when he was partaking in city tournaments. One day, Shinoda informed Fujii that he was going to turn pro, and looked forward to seeing him in the ring someday. However, he told Shinoda that he was done as a boxer. Shinoda thought they shared the same dream- To go to the Olympics or become a champ as a pro. Fujii told him to go and make the dream come true, while he decided to report on boxing instead. The two then made a promise for Shinoda to become a JBC champion, then world champion, as Fujii wrote about him as he made his way up. When Shinoda became pro, Fujii was filming his pro debut. Eventually, Fujii joined the Monthly Boxing Fan.
Three years after Date Eiji retired after losing to WBA champion Ricardo Martinez, Fujii visited the Nakadai Boxing Gym and wondered if Date would be able to challenge the world title again, Nakadai did not believe he would come back, however..
Fujii, along with his assistant while driving, noted how Japan has almost everything but world champions. He mentioned that Miyata Ichirō is apparently good despite not having a pro debut. Fujii visited the Kamogawa Boxing Gym in order to talk to Miyata. He was thrilled when he heard that Miyata was about to have a spar. He watched the spar between Makunouchi Ippo and Miyata. At first, he didn't believe in Ippo, just watching the spar for the prodigy, Miyata. After the spar, Fujii was surprised at the outcome, and quickly gained interest in Ippo.
After Ippo's win against Oda Yūsuke, Fujii noted how Ippo, Miyata, and Mashiba all had victories in their matches so far. When his partner doubted Ippo, Fujii noted that Ippo grows each time he fights. Fujii and his partner entered the Kamogawa Boxing Gym in order to meet Ippo. When he saw Ippo, he realised that Ippo was using the Peek-a-Boo Style. After Ippo was done training, Fujii informed him that Miyata and Mashiba were winning their matches and that it is almost time for the East Japan Rookie King Tournament, wishing him luck.
After not only Ippo and Miyata, but also Mashiba (who the public had high expectations for) became professional boxers, Fujii covered the East Japan Rookie King Tournament where the trio will be participating along with prodigy Hayami Ryūichi.
With Ippo winning the first match of the tournament, Fujii entered the gym and showed everyone a tape of Ippo's next opponent, Kobashi Kenta, who beat Yoshida Mitsuo. He then showed everyone a video of Hayami.
With the semi-finals of the A-Block being Ippo against Hayami, Fujii visited the Otowa Boxing Gym to get comments from Hayami. Hayami revealed his secret goal of wanting to be a charismatic hero, bringing back Japan's spirit of loving boxing, using the media as a resource. After seeing Hayami's basic, but tough training, he believed that Ippo may lose. When the day of Ippo's match against Hayami arrived, Fujii watched as Ippo won the match. Fujii later watched Miyata and Mashiba's match that ended with Mashiba winning. The next day, Fujii visited the Tōhō Boxing Gym to get comments from Mashiba. Fujii told Mashiba that while he had no interest in the accident of stepping on Miyata's foot, Ippo does, as Miyata was his goal. When he asked for Mashiba's thoughts of Ippo coming to him with determination, he became scared of Mashiba's laughing and cruel response
After discovering Mashiba's past and having a sister named Mashiba Kumi, he visited the Kamogawa Boxing Gym to inform Ippo of the details. Fujii came back to the Tōhō Boxing Gym and witnessed Mashiba's Flicker Jab and Chopping Right hitting a sandbag. Fujii watched Ippo fight Mashiba in the finals of the East Japan Rookie King Tournament. After Ippo won, Fujii was impressed by Ippo as the predictions were 50-50.
While Ippo was inside Kōrakuen Hall to watch his gym mates matches, Fujii introduced JBC featherweight champion Date Eiji to Ippo. When Ippo and Okita Keigo had a match scheduled, Fujii and his partner arrived to the Kōrakuen Hall to watch the match. Fujii noted the reason why the tickets are high priced and outside the hall is lively despite the rain was because of the semi-final card being Ippo vs. Okita, the current and former Rookie Kings.
Fujii went to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym to show Ippo the magazine about his fight against Okita. He then showed the article on Miyata's first match in the overseas against Rusak Paddy ending in a draw. After hearing from Yagi that Ippo quit boxing, Fujii visited Ippo at the Makunouchi Fishing Boat to see his private life and give him tapes of Saeki Takuma. Fujii then attempted to stop Ippo from retiring, as he did not want to see talent go to waste. However, Ippo apologised to him and told him to leave him alone. Fujii left, believing he will come back as boxing is like a drug, which is why boxers come back after retiring.
After discovering Ippo came back to boxing, Fujii and his assistant went to the Nakadai Boxing Gym to watch Saeki and Date spar.
When Date fought against Satō Takashi in his third title defence, Fujii was watching. Fujii then asked Ippo how he felt, as Ippo was doing harsh training due to his upcoming opponent being Alexander Volg Zangief. He then took Ippo to Date's dressing room. When the day of the Class A Tournament finals arrived, Fujii watched the finals with Ippo against Volg.
When the Champion Carnival for Takamura against Tamaki Atsushi began, Fujii rushed to the Kōrakuen Hall to see the weigh-in where he was surprised to hear Takamura's weight limit was over.
When a public sparring session commenced in the Kamogawa gym for Ippo's match against the champion Date, Fujii was watching Ippo's spar against a fourth ranked boxer from the Philippines. After the spar and the reporters left the gym, the Filipino boxer left the gym and talked with Fujii about how powerful Ippo's left liver blow was. Fujii then overlooked a private training session and witnessed Ippo delivering a punch from pinpoint range. After watching Ippo's defeat by the hands of the champion, Date, Fujii and his assistant witnessed Sendō Takeshi and Volg staring at each other. Fujii realised that Date may relinquish the belt, leaving the throne open for the new generation of featherweights. Fujii then noticed Miyata walking away, surprising Fujii who did not know he was back already. His assistant insisted to get a review from Miyata, however, Fujii told him it was not the time.
After seeing the results of the fight for the JBC featherweight title between Sendō and Volg, Fujii called the Kamogawa gym to talk to Ippo. He informed Ippo about the Otowa gym cutting their contract with Volg after he lost and was being sent back to Russia. Later, when Miyata was fighting against Li Chon Pir, Fujii was watching the match and noted how no one expected Miyata to be as strong when he came back from overseas as he was. When Ippo's comeback match against Ponchai Chuwatana arrived, he was watching the match with Fujii. During the match, Fujii was shocked when he saw Ippo use Jack Dempsey's Dempsey Roll and explained the Dempsey Roll to Umezawa Masahiko.
After reports of Takamura killing a bear, Fujii and other reporters came to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym in order to hear details from Takamura. When Kamogawa got angry and told everyone to leave, Fujii stayed behind to talk to Takamura. Fujii told Takamura that he figured that he would be nervous about his upcoming world match, not knowing that it was supposed to be a secret kept from Takamura. Fujii apologised, however Kamogawa told him that having Takamura knowing it may be for the best. Fujii then introduced a female sportswriter, Īmura Mari to the Kamogawa gym members. Later, Fujii went to the Kōrakuen Hall to attend Takamura's title defence against Itō Takaaki.
Fujii visited the Kamogawa gym after hearing Ippo finish five straight knockout spars. There, Fujii revealed that Mari went to Osaka to interview Sendō. When Mari came back to Tokyo, and after interviewing Ippo, Mari told Fujii how the two boxers told her the same thing but worded differently that the match was not about the belt. He then commented how only Ippo and Sendō can understand their bond. Fujii made a prediction that the odds of the match are even.
The day before the match, Fujii went to the Kōrakuen Hall for the weight check between Ippo and Sendō. The next day, Fujii watched the title match with Mari. After Ippo won and became the JBC featherweight champion, 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. Mari asked him if he was thinking that Sendō would retire, but Fujii believed it would be hard for Sendō to face his fans that cheered for him.
When Kimura's title match against JBC junior lightweight champion Mashiba arrived, Fujii went with Mari to the Kōrakuen Hall to watch the match. 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. Fujii agreed, noting that the people in today's crowd are different, where they are looking forward to a tragedy that will occur with Mashiba's madness, similar to watching a snuff film. Fujii thought it might be different however, since he heard Kimura had a secret weapon. He then watched the match. During the match, Fujii left to talk to Kimura's parents, who had left the seating area, asking why they left. Kimura's father explained how Kimura became a delinquent because of him and later discovered boxing and became happy after years of using his fists for violence. Fujii then told him how his son is doing his best and that the match has not ended yet, encouraging the father to go back and watch. Mari told Fujii to come back and watch when Kimura finally landed a hit in the seventh round. After Mashiba won, Fujii and Mari could not get a comment from Mashiba due to him leaving early. 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, Fujii compared Sanada to Date as the same type and believed that predictions were hard to make. Fujii and the other reporters planned to greet the boxers, but Sanada was doing a closed practice at the Kinoshita Boxing Gym. When Fujii arrived to the Kamogawa gym, who could not tell Ippo anything about Sanada, but asked him how it felt having boxers train just to take him off his throne. Hearing his answer, Fujii believed that he does not feel the pressure yet. With Takamura wanting to know where Mari is, Fujii revealed that she went to the Imperial College of Medicine to interview Sanada. Three weeks prior to the match, Fujii and Mari 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. Fujii then reported his findings at the Kamogawa gym. Seeing Ippo train with Kamogawa, Fujii noticed that Kamogawa has a plan against the Hien, thinking how the two coaches make the upcoming match exciting. Later, Fujii attended the weigh-in. Fujii then attended Ippo's title defence against Sanada. The match ended in Ippo winning.
Fujii went to the OPBF featherweight champion Arnie Gregory's spar. after Gregory finished the session, his manager, Mr. Sakaguchi claimed to already be looking for their next opponent after Miyata. Mr. Sakaguchi's further comments made Fujii believe that he was making light of Japanese fighters. After Mr. Sakaguchi revealed that they were holding back a technique called the "Bloody Cross", Fujii went to the Kamogawa gym to discuss what happened. Fujii compared Gregory's strength to that of Ippo'a and that the odds are 7-3 in Miyata's favour, however, he was concerned about the manager's calmness. Later, Fujii attended the OPBF featherweight title match between challenger Miyata and champion Gregory. After Miyata won and became the champion, Fujii informed Miyata that Mr. Sakaguchi left alone, with his and Gregory's ties cut.
When Date was to fight the WBA featherweight champion Ricardo Martinez, Fujii went to the Narita Terminal 1 to witness Ricardo and Bill Stewart's arrival to Tokyo. Later, Ricardo requested a spar against Ippo at the Otowa gym. Fujii went to the spar and had high anticipation with Ippo being serious to fight Ricardo. When Ricardo began dominating Ippo with fast lefts, Kamogawa explained to the confused Fujii about Ricardo's motionless jabs. Fujii was in shock as Ricardo stopped the Dempsey Roll effortlessly with his lefts. The spar ended when Ricardo and Bill stopped the spar as Ricardo did not want to hurt Ippo's pride. Fujii later arrived to the Ryōgoku Kokugikan to watch the WBA title match between Date and Ricardo. Before the match began. Fujii informed Ippo in the audience seats of Date's request to meet only him in his changing room. After the title match ended in Ricardo's win, Fujii went to the Kamogawa gym to inform the gym members of Date's condition. When Takamura insisted for Ippo to go see Date, Fujii drove Ippo to the General Hospital to see him.
Fujii attended the weigh-in for Ippo's second featherweight title defence match against Yamada Naomichi. Fujii then watched the title match, interested to see who improved the most out of the two who once sparred together at the same gym, realising there were reasons to worry about Ippo's chance of victory despite odds being at 9 to 1. The match ended in Ippo's victory.
Fujii stops by the gym hoping to interview Ippo but he isn't there. Instead he interviews Kimura, Aoki, and Itagaki about the upcoming Class A tournament. While there, they ask Fujii to fill out a Power Grid on them. Kimura and Aoki's are round shaped. Itagaki doesn't know if his is good or not.
Fujii explains that if you image there's a sifter, the boxing world is a dangerous one where people are constantly falling through the cracks. They all get thrown together and shaken around and the smaller rounder a stone is, the faster it will fall. Of course, big stones (like Takamura) don't fall and make themselves home in the Pro Ring where they have long careers.
There is another type of rock that doesn't fall, rocks that are smaller than the holes in the sifter, but are shaped so they don't fall, the pointy stones. He thinks Ippo is one of them. By using specialized techniques and weapons, Itagaki doesn't fall through, and has a good chance to survive.
When Fujii visits the Kamogawa Boxing Gym, he does mitt training with the members of gym. He mentions he used to be an amateur out-boxer in the past, and once ran into a Prodigy in a city tournament. Fujii thought if he could beat him, he would turn pro. Instead, Fujii was taught a lesson, and his dream didn't last. While mitt training with them, Fujii mentions that Aoki's punches were like the prodigy.
Later on, when they discuss the shapes of their fists, he notes Ippo's are big, hard, and flat like a rectangle, where the force is more spread out. It the secret behind his strong punching power. Itagaki's Fist is like a Triangle. Fujii comments that if Ippo's fist have stopping power, then Itagaki's have more penetrating damage. They're good for pinpoint, precise punches, and they can lip through holes in enemy defences much easier.
Kimura's fist is a mixture between the two (or average.) Aoku's is Round Shaped, where Fujii mentions they tend to be slippery and can roll off target. Shinoda arrives, everyone discovers that Shinoda and Fujii have a history together.
That is when everyone in Kamogawa Gym discovered that the prodigy that Fujii was mentioning was Shinoda. Shinoda tells them that he lost his Pro Debut match, and lost over and over again. He only fought in six matches, and ended up with an average record. Everyone thinks instead of turning into a fist of a prodigy, it became a Fist of Betrayal. Shinoda apologises to Fujii about not able to fulfil their promise, but Fujii tells him it is okay, since he just wasn't suited to be a pro.
Fujii attended Ippo's match against Antonio Guevara.
After Imai Kyōsuke defend his title for 2nd time, the editorial staff for Boxing Fan Monthly talked about it. When they mention that Imai wanted to fight Ippo, Fujii commented that the crowd was quiet because Ippo was still fresh in their minds, where Ippo was a fighter that embodied the idea that hard work was enough to achieve your dreams. Fujii thought the sense of loss was probably hard to handle for them.
When other writers wonder who would have won between Imai and Ippo, Fujii noted that when Imai talked about Ippo, he used the past tense where he knew Ippo was gone. He thought everyone should give Ippo some space and let him rest.
Fujii attended the weigh-in for Mashiba and Iga Shinobu's match, where he heard Kurita Baron reveal that he knew about Mashiba's three weaknesses that Iga will take advantage of. He later informed Ippo of the information and thought it was just Baron's mindgame.
Fujii has black eyes, spiky dark brown hair, a thin moustache that later grows into a fuller moustache, and a stubble. His attire is usually a black or brown business suit.
Fujii is one of the most knowledgeable and intuitive; been able to predict events or figure out techniques before most. He also has many connections within most local gyms, as he frequently visits the members in order to gather and share information. In addition to Ippo, he also seems to be friends with Takamura Mamoru and Date Eiji.
- (About a Sparring Match) "You could sell tickets to a match-up like this!"
- (About Boxing) "Like a drug you can't stop taking after your first time, boxing has the same power. That's why so many boxers come back into the ring a second time."
- A seldom-noticed running gag of the series is Fujii's constant attempts to quit smoking. He changes between cigarettes and nicotine replacement tubes regularly.
- According to Fujii, he was a poor boxer dubbed "The Eternal #2" in a City Tournament.
- When Fujii first appeared in the manga, he was sitting in the back seat of his car with his legs on the front seats as he is reviewing boxer's file while Fujii's Assistant drive him to Kamogawa Boxing Gym.
- His second appearance in his car, Fujii has his feet on the dash board, while his assistant was driving too.