Kyōsuke Imai (今井 京介, Imai Kyōsuke) is a semi-recurring character in Hajime no Ippo
He is a featherweight professional boxer and the current Japanese Boxing Commission featherweight champion affiliated with the Otowa Boxing Gym. He is proclaimed the eternal rival of boxing genius Itagaki Manabu, and is known for being a very talented hard puncher capable of holding his own against Makunouchi Ippo twice in spars, as well being a very huge fan of his and one of his former goals.
His surname is Imai. In Japan, surnames are listed before given names.
Imai's father owned a big company. Because of that, he took up boxing so that he would not be seen as a little rich boy and he didn't want to be the heir.
In his high school days, Imai was an inter-high boxing champion for two years in a row. He defeated his rival Itagaki Manabu three times, all times by knockout. While fighting Itagaki, he noticed Itagaki Nanako cheering from afar and became attracted to her. He was shocked when he found out it was his rival's sister.
He later went into professional boxing and grew to idolise Makunouchi Ippo. Despite his idolisation of Ippo, Imai chose to join any gym but the Kamogawa Boxing Gym in hopes to one day be able to fight Ippo in the ring, ultimately going to the Otowa Boxing Gym.
Imai and his coach visited the Kamogawa gym to have a sparring match with Makunouchi Ippo. After introducing himself and telling Ippo how much he looked up to him, they got in the ring to spar. The spar lasted three rounds with Imai having no downs and was giving Ippo a hard time. As a result of the spar, Imai believed Ippo to be strong and a good goal.
When Itagaki Manabu arrived at the gym and learned how Ippo was pushed in a spar by Imai, he was hostile toward Imai. Imai attempted to greet Itagaki, but Itagaki turned him down. Disappointed that Itagaki turned him down, Imai claimed that he will aim at becoming pro and will take the shortest path to Ippo's title. Imai then left the gym without a word after Itagaki told him that he will stop him from doing that.
Imai returned to the Kamogawa gym with his coach to spar with Ippo in order to prepare for the East Japan Rookie King Tournament. When Itagaki saw Imai, he wanted Imai to spar with him instead. However, Imai wanted to fight the stronger Ippo and did not see a problem fighting in front of his possible future opponent, looking down on Itagaki. Imai then got into the ring when Ippo accepted the spar. Imai gave him a hard time in the two round spar, impressing his coach, who believed Ippo would have fallen if they used 8-ounce gloves despite Imai's uncertainty.
After watching Makino Fumito's match in the East Japan Rookie King Tournament quarter-finals, Imai ran into Makino outside the Kōrakuen Hall as he was criticising Itagaki for bringing his "girlfriend" with him to watch the match. Imai corrected Makino by revealing Itagaki's "girlfriend" as his younger sister Itagaki Nanako. As tension rose between the three, Ippo stepped in to stop them. Imai deemed Makino as a mad dog and wondered if Itagaki was going to win and make it to the finals, which Itagaki then told him the same thing. Itagaki wanted to know why Imai knew who his sister was. Imai explained that he always heard her cheering for Itagaki when they fought in the past.Imai went to the Kōrakuen Hall for his East Japan Rookie King Tournament semi-finals match against Terai Makoto. After seeing Itagaki defeat Makino, Imai entered the ring for his match against Makoto. When the match began, Imai had trouble hitting Makoto as he was swiftly dodging his wide swings. After Imai knocked away Makoto's guard and missed a right hook, Imai landed two body blows that sent Makoto down. The referee immediately ended the match, resulting in Imai's victory and moving up to the tournament's finals against Itagaki.
After Ippo defeated Karasawa Takuzō, Imai ran into Itagaki while waiting for Aoki. Imai told him that he was there because he intended to fight Ippo in the future, where the winner of the Rookie King Tournament will be ranked 10th. He will have the right to challenge Ippo, and he planned on taking the shortest route to the title by challenging Ippo. Itagaki told him that he will stop him, but Imai told him based on Ippo's match, it is a good reference for their fight against Itagaki. Now embarrassed, Itagaki agreed that it the same for him, where Imai will be the one on the mat. Imai thought that Itagaki didn't look well with his cheek bones showing, he thought Itagaki might have failed his weight control. He asked Itagaki what he planned to do if he won, or his future plans are with Ippo, but Itagaki didn't answer. Imai told him that he wanted to test his own power and fight a strong champion, which was why he picked a different gym from Ippo. He thought Itagaki picked the same gym to be under Ippo because he didn't want to fight him. He believed they were looking at two different things, where the difference between them will come out in their match. He wanted to make a bet with Itagaki, where he will do anything Itagaki wants if he won, but if Imai won, Itagaki's got to introduce him to his sister. Itagaki grabbed Imai intending to fight him after he heard that, and was angry for bring such a thing into their match. Imai was serious about it. As Itagaki was about to throw a punch, a mummified Aoki appeared to stop it, and told them not to fight. Itagaki ran to check Aoki after he saw his condition. While leaving and laughing, he thought Itagaki gym was interesting, and told Itagaki to remember what he said.
A few days prior to his match with Itagaki, Imai was still preparing for it. His coach told him that Maezono Makoto had already won the West Japan Rookie King Tournament, and he might be a troublesome opponent because he was a southpaw. Imai told him they aren't done with the East Japan Rookie King Tournament yet to focus on his next opponent. However his coached believed Imai will win since he defeated Itagaki 3 times in the past, where he shouldn't be neverous over it. Imai continued to train, and he thought he never defeated Itagaki easily. He believed Itagaki increased his speed even more, and he didn't think his punches will slow him down. His punches need to be sharper and stronger. At the weigh in, Itagaki and Imai both past fine. Imai told Itagaki he thought Itagaki would have failed his weight control, but Itagaki looked in good condition. Itagaki told him that his sister didn't want to go out with him, but Imai forgot about their previous bet of late since he was focused on winning. Itagaki was the same.
While Imai waiting for Itagaki to arrive to the ring, his coach was complaining about it to the referee and the crowd started to join him. After waiting more, Itagaki ran out and jumped over the top ropes into the ring for a flashy entrance. Imai was concentration on how he would fight still. As the match started, Imai charged at Itagaki. While outboxing, Itagaki used his legs for distance, he thrown some lefts and Imai kept chasing him. Imai was patient and planned to catch Itagaki until he can landed a punch on him. The match turned into a power vs speed match up with Itagaki dodging using his speed to land his Hedgehog while Imai kept throwing strong punches in order to hit him. Imai came close a few times, but Itagaki was able to barely dodge them. The distance between them decreased as the match went on, and Itagaki started to feel Imai's pressure. Itagaki knew that he can't keep running from Imai, where he decided to infight him instead. The match turned into a pushing match, but Imai was slowing pushing Itagaki back because of their size difference.Itagaki landed an uppercut close range, but Imai started attacking close range. Itagaki was able to dodge his punches by a hair while landing a few counters in. He continued to infight while dodging and landing punches and becoming unpredictable. The round ended as Itagaki was about to land a strong punch, where he won the points for the round. Between the round, Imai planned to get into a hitting match with Itagaki.
Round 2 started with Itagaki infighting and outboxing close range. He continued to dodge Imai's punches, while landing his own on him. The fighting real close together, yet Imai wasn't able to land a punch on Itagaki. After a while, Itagaki was using his arms to block Imai's punches, and used his rapid punches to force Imai to step back but Imai continued to push ahead till landed a a punch that caused Itagaki's forehead to bleed. Itagaki countered attacked till the round ended with Itagaki winning the points for it. In the 3rd round, Itagaki followed the same pattern from the previous round but Imai started to land a few punches. Itagaki shown his determination taking hits while attacking, but Imai landed a body blow that stopped him. Imai landed more blows till Itagaki counter with his punches. Itagaki's cut started bleeding again, and he thrown a hedgehog to push Imai toward the ropes. The continued to trade hit till the round ended with Itagaki winning the points for it again.
The 4th round, Imai came out bracing for a hitting match, while Itagaki used another hedgehog on his guard since Itagaki stopped moving his feet. Imai waited for his chance when there's an opening and attacked, which hit Itagaki's guard, but caused him to stagger. Imai was aiming for a KO to win it. Itagaki continued attacking Imai's guard with Imai landing a few hits on him, which Itagaki started to show signs that it was working with his shakey legs. Itagaki was able to land a few punch on Imai, until he landed a clean hit on Itagaki's head. When Itagaki was about to fall, Imai through an uppercut that pushed Itagaki backwards. Imai charged after him aiming for the cut, but Itagak rushed back at him while blocking and counter attacking. Imai landed more body blows, but Itagaki held on till the round ended. The crowd believed Itagaki won the round again, since it was in his favor, despite it seemed like he was losing.
In the next round, Imai started attacking while Itagaki tried to hold on. Imai was able to push him to the ropes, but when he attacked Itagaki was able to dodge by using them. As Itagaki was about to fall over, he grabbed the ropes as Imai attacked. Itagaki twisted his neck to avoid the damage, but Imai followed it with a hook that was stopped by the ropes that cut off any escape routes for Itagaki. Imai landed a liver blow, while Itagaki tried to block but Imai was able to slip a few past his guard. Imai pushed Itagaki to the corner, and continue to pound away at him. After getting hit, Itagaki started to show his guts by attacking back turning it into a hitting match to the end of the round. During the break, the referee went to Itagaki's corner to check Itagaki cut since it was bleeding, when he noticed it looked like Itagaki was unconscious. But after Ippo arrived, Itagaki stood up allowing the match to continue, but the referee warned he would stop the match if it become too dangerous. Imai was now motivated when he saw Ippo in the corner.
They touched gloves when the last round begun. Itagaki attacked landed first, but the continued to trade hits. Imai was able to land body blow knocked Itagaki down, but he managed to get up. The match resumed with 1 min left. Itagaki tighten his guard while Imai attacked him, but Itagaki continued to hold on. Imai's swing started to go wide allowing Itagaki to dodge. Imai was able to land a punch that almost caused Itagaki to fall again, but he head on and launched a counterattack with a hedgehog that pushed him back when Imai went in for the finish. Imai threw a punch, but the bell rung as Itagaki fell toward him causing him to catch him. The match went to decision. The Announcer announced the judges score. Judge Uchida scored it 57 to 56, Judge Morita scored it 57 to 57, and Referee Shimakawa as 57 to 56. Itagaki was declared the winner by one point difference. As Imai left, he noticed Itagaki celebrating with his gym mates, and thought that the difference between them was because they put themselves in different environments, where Itagaki trained with real Pro's.
Imai visited Itagaki in the hospital after he was sent their after their match from the injures he recieved. He intended to drop off the video of the West Japan Rookie King winner, Hoshi Hiroyuki. He over heard Ippo mention that he thought Itagaki and him were good friends, which Itagaki disagreed with him until Ippo told him about the end of their match, where it looked like Imai was holding him up like he was praising him or had a bond between them. Itagaki told Ippo that he must be joking since he considered Imai his enemy when Imai finally enter the room. Imai wanted Ippo to take those words back, since he also thought of Itagaki has his enemy too. Itagaki complained about Imai being there while looking healthy while he was hospitalized. Imai told him just wanted to drop off some video of his next opponent since he didn't need them. He added that the boxer who was expect to win it, lost while someone knocked him around like he was a kid. He warned Itagaki should watch the videos when he leaves, even if he didn't want them. Itagaki remembered the bet that was made before the match, where he told Imai to do a Dogeza (where he kneeled down in front of him and apologized.) Just Imai was about to do it, Itagaki's sister entered the room creating a weird atmosphere. Imai told Itagaki that since he was still healthy right now, and Itagaki was in the hospital, he believed that meant he lost the battle but won the war between them. As he left, he told Itagaki the real conclusion between them will be the next time they face each other, until then they will postpone the promise.
A day later, Imai visited Itagaki against as he was getting checked out by Mashiba Kumi, where Itagaki didn't want to leave the hospital with Kumi watching over him. Imai doesn't like Itagaki being distracted by the nurses with is match coming up, but Itagaki didn't want to hear it even though Hoshi was strong. Imai felt that if Itagaki lost to Hoshi, then it would mean there were two boxers stronger than him. Itagaki started to become interested in Hoshi after hearing he was strong. Imai offered to help him, which was why he visited him every day. Itagaki's motivated and interested in leaving the hospital. As he was about to leave, Nanako noticed it and started yelling at them, and she wonder why Imai was there if he doesn't stop him from doing stupid stuff. While giving him a bad look, she told him to stop Itagaki. Imai realised he can't see Nanako if Itagaki leaves, where he started to struggle with Itagaki until Kumi arrived to lecture them for not resting. Itagaki started to play nice with each other, while Nanako was angry at their acting. When Itagaki was about to check out from the hospital, Imai was there to see him off. Ippo arrived to take Itagaki home in a truck while Imai offered to walk Nanako home, where Kumi commented that Nanako should do it since they would make a nice couple. Nanako was angry after she heard that, and told Imai that she thought he wasn't suppose to talk to her since he lost to her brother in the match. Imai walked away determined to beat Itagaki in a rematch.
In order for Itagaki to fight Hoshi Hiroyuki, he need to fight another 6 Round match to get his Class A license. Imai watched Itagaki fight against "unknown" opponent. While watching the fight, Imai noticed Itagaki fighting poorly, and wondered what was causing him to slip up so much. Itagaki was able to win the match in the end.
After Itagaki lost to Randy Boy Junior in a spar at Otowa Boxing Gym, Itagaki discussing his thoughts on him with Ippo, Fujii Minoru, and Iimura Mari. He feels Randy Boy Junior is the worst possible match up for Miyata Ichirō, but Imai arriving (covered with bruises) gives his opinion and thinks Miyata can win it. Fuji asks him why he thinks so, when Imai shows him his bruises where he mentions he just got done experiencing Miyata's strength first hand. Itagaki laughs at him for sparring with Miyata and getting his ass kicked. Imai counters (while grabbing him) that Itagaki should laugh since he doesn't look any better. Ippo warns Imai that Itagaki was knocked down, and not to shake his head too much.
After hearing that, he thinks Itagaki is pathetic since he didn't fall down against Miyata. Itagaki apologizes, and mentions he only landed 3 or 4 hits on him. Imai is surprised that Itagaki hit him, since he never been able to touch Miyata during it. Itagaki starts laughing, and Imai adds it was pretty pathetic since the spar was 2 on 1. He mentions Miyata wanted to fight a right handed boxer, and a southpaw at the same time.
Ippo is surprised that it is at the same time, and not switching out. Imai mention he knows that he is not at the same level as Miyata, but he still felt like Miyata was mocking them. Imai seriously wanted to break Miyata's conceited face, but instead Miyata tells him it was a good practice and would like his help again 3 times a week. Imai still angry at Miyata's smug look.
As they are about to leave, Imai offers to take responsibility for getting Itagaki home in one piece. Itagaki doesn't know what he is talking about, but Imai mention since he was knocked down, he should have moving around on his own. Itagaki thinks he is okay, but Imai still tries to walk him home. Itagaki realizes Imai just wants to see his sister. They continue to argue about it, when Ippo tells Imai to take care of Itagaki.
Disappointed, Itagaki tells him that he is not letting him see Nanako. Imai think Itagaki is being stingy, when Itagaki mention he not going hook up a guy so pathetic that he couldn't touch Miyata. Imai argues with him. They both thought they gotten stronger and improved, but Imai mentions that there is always someone better. Its like there's no upper limit in this world, which makes it all more worth-while. Itagaki agrees, and mentions that they will show them one day.
Along the way home, Imai continues to talk to Itagaki about his spar with Miyata. He feels Miyata was focusing on him more than the other sparring partner. He can't think of any reason why Miyata would have it in for him. Itagaki mentions Imai's hair, and Imai tells him it is the Makunouchi look. He wants to be like Ippo as much as possible.
Itagaki asks Imai who he thinks is stronger, Miyata or Randy Boy Junior? Imai thinks Miyata since he was able to beat him with kid gloves on, and think he will do better than Itagaki did against Randy. Itagaki disagrees with him. They continue to discuss outboxing and infighting. Itagaki wonders how long Imai is going to follow him, and Imai plans on going all the way to Itagaki house.
They meet Itagaki Nanako when they arrive. Imai greets her, while see tells Itagaki he is keeping strange company. Imai mentions Itagaki was knocked out in a spar when he visited his gym, where he was worried and wanted to make sure Itagaki got home safe. Nanako thanks him, and sends him off. Imai wants to stay longer, and starts leaving when Itagaki's parents stop him. They invite him in for dinner, and Imai love join them.
At the dinner table, Imai notices the food is bare minimum nutritional intake need to survive and their house interesting too. Itagaki's parents ask about his house, and Imai mentions he hates it since he used to get lost inside of it all the time. When ever his friend would visit, they would end up needing help finding someone. Itagaki thinks he is bragging, but Imai thinks it is nice to have a real home, where you can find your family and talk to them. Imai continues to complain about how big his home is, where it is lonely for him.
Imai is enjoying the food and the cozy environment. Itagaki's Father asks Imai about being the only son of the owner of a large company. Imai agrees, and that he may end up taking control of it at some point in time, but he doesn't plan to be like his parents, who are too busy and never home. He plans to always make time to enjoy being with his family, even in-laws since he has plenty room to share. Imai apologize for talking about having a wife, when he still hasn't proven himself yet. Itagaki's parent disagree, and start to encourage him with Nanako.
Over the course of the dinner, Itagaki's family starts telling puns. Imai decides to join them with "I eat sardines and I'm aiming to become Champion someday." (Mezashi Mezashite) It catches Itagaki and Nanako by surprise. Imai leaves while Itagaki walks with him a bit. Itagaki mentions he plans to enter the Class A Tournament, where he will be ranked first if he wins it. Imai doesn't plan to enter it.
He mentions to Itagaki that he doesn't envy him, where he thinks it is a pity that Itagaki will never be able to test himself against the strongest there is in Ippo. He wonder if Itagaki will really think taking the belt will mean as much to him if he does it without fighting Ippo.
Imai continues spars with Miyata Ichirō prepare for his match with Randy Boy Junior. The spar ends, Imai mentions that he can still go on, but Miyata Senior tells him we can't since Miyata doesn't have the stamina to continue. He notes that they are lucky Imai is so tough, since he was the only one to make it through the entire training, the other sparring partners all got injured or had other reason to leave partway.
Imai mentions it is an honor, and wonders how long they are planning to keep this up since Miyata looks like he is hurt from all the spars after being this beat up, he in no condition to fight. Miyata's dad mentions that they plan on having him recover from his exhaustion and damage as the match draws near, but not if he can't learn from this training then he will not be able to win since he is still missing something. Imai surprised that he thinks Miyata can win. Miyata Senior notes that Miyata might have the speed advantage, but that won't help him much.
Later on, Imai over hears Miyata senior, Coach Kawahara, and Kida talking that Miyata will need a third type of punch in order to go on the offensive front. A punch from a low angle, or an uppercut.
After Ippo relinquished his title, Imai, then ranked number 2 in Japan, fought Itagaki in a match for the title. Imai executesd a flawless plan in which he trapped Itagaki in the corner at the sound of the bell, then landed one punishing body blow via an exchange which damageds Itagaki extensively. He proceeded to knock Itagaki out with an uppercut, claiming the Japanese title and his first professional win over Itagaki.
After defending the JBC Featherweight title for a 2nd time, Imai had knocked the opponent down, and the ref stopped the fight. Imai won with a First Round KO. The crowd commented that Imai's entrances taken longer than the actual matches, and they wondered if there was anyone in Japan that could beat him. Itagaki thought he could, even though he lost to Imai before.
At the end of the match, Imai got asked by the female reporter if he had any plans for the future. Imai mentioned he had his eyes on a World Ranking, and he wanted to take on two Japanese boxers in particular. The crowd mentioned that it could be Sendo Takeshi and Miyata Ichirō. The reporter asked Imai if he wants to fight those two. Imai answers, "No, the person I wanted to fight was...Makunouchi Ippo."
Round 10 beguns, Ippo claimed Miyata never complained, he suffered in silence. As Miyata thrown a left jab at his opponent, Imai stated his left jab looked like a "sigh", something that didn't happen when Imai sparred with him. Miyata was pushed to the ropes and was bombarded with body blows. Imai stated Miyata shouldn't be weak right now as he had dealt with weight control for awhile, he just lacked his drive. Ippo believed Miyata's drive was to carry on his father's legacy and become the world champion, but Imai claimed that his drive is gone because Ippo is no longer in the ring.
|17||WIN||16-1-0||1999- 03||Unknown||Tokyo, Japan||1(10)||KO||2nd JBC Featherweight Title Defence Match|
|16||WIN||15-1-0||1998||Unknown||Tokyo, Japan||1(10)||KO||1st JBC Featherweight Title Defence Match|
|15||WIN||14-1-0||1998-03-21||Itagaki Manabu||Tokyo, Japan||1(10), 0:55||TKO||JBC Featherweight Title Match|
|7||LOSS||6-1-0||1995-11||Itagaki Manabu||Tokyo, Japan||6(6)||Decision||East Japan Rookie King Tournament Finals|
|6||WIN||6-0-0||1995-10||Terai Makoto||Tokyo, Japan||1(4)||TKO||East Japan Rookie King Tournament|
|5||WIN||5-0-0||1995-8||Unknown||Tokyo, Japan||?(4)||KO||East Japan Rookie King Tournament|
|4||WIN||4-0-0||1995-06||Unknown||Tokyo, Japan||?(4)||KO||East Japan Rookie King Tournament |
|3||WIN||3-0-0||1995-04-13||Unknown||Tokyo, Japan||?(4)||KO||East Japan Rookie King Tournament |
|1||WIN||1-0-0||199X||Unknown||Tokyo, Japan||?(4)||KO||Pro Debut Match|
|Inter-High Record: 35 Total Fights - 35 Wins, 0 Losses, 33 Referee Stops|
- VS Makunouchi Ippo 3R (Sparring)
- VS Makunouchi Ippo 2R (Sparring)
- VS Miyata Ichirō 3R Loss Decision (Sparring)
- VS Miyata Ichirō ?R Loss KO (Sparring 2 vs. 1)
|Preceded by||Title||Succeeded by|
(Preceded by Makunouchi Ippo)
|JBC Featherweight Champion|
March 21, 1998 - Present
Imai is a man with short black messy hair with strands of hair going over his forehead. His eye colour is black and he has large bushy eyebrows. His body is well-built for the featherweight class. His boxing attire consists of dark coloured boxing shorts with a giant "I" for "Imai" on his front left side and a giant letter "K" for "Kyōsuke" on his front right of his shorts.
An incredibly serious and respectful member of the Otowa Boxing Gym, Imai is shown to show great admiration towards fellow featherweight in-fighter Ippo. It is shown that he wishes to befriend Itagaki sincerely on one occasion, even going as far as calling him by his given name, but quickly recoils and turns harshly confident when the latter refuses his offer of friendship.
He has an unrequited love for Itagaki's younger sister Itagaki Nanako and comes from a rich family. It is mentioned that Imai's relatives strongly disapprove of his choice to become a boxer.
Despite his youth, Imai has proven to be a very capable fighter, able to defeat Itagaki twice before they turned pro and hold his own against Ippo, then the Japanese champion. He has been compared to Ippo in terms of strength and style as a fellow in-fighter. He fights with an orthodox style, although he tends to make wide swings to scare off his opponents. His main weapons in the ring are his strength and stamina, which make him a powerful hard-punching boxer. According to Ippo, Imai's punching power is greater than Shimabukuro Iwao's, a boxer whose punches were comparable to his own.
Imai doesn't possess any footwork, which makes him easy to out-box. He does, however, compensate for this in his latest battle with Itagaki in which Imai cornered Itagaki.
Main Article: Imai Kyōsuke/Gallery
- (About Itagaki) "Your puny punches won't stop me. [They're] weak weak weak weak WEAK!"
- (To Ippo about Miyata) "This isn't just a matter of trying hard. Just look at the stadium right now. This is a professional boxing match, and a title match on top of that. No one's cheering. No one's excited. The whole atmosphere is dead. Does a pro disappoint his paying fans? A pro's only job is to deliver what the fans come to see. At least that's what I think. "
- Imai mentions he admires Hamada Tsuyoshi when he first meets Ippo. Imai is probably modelled after him since they have a similar appearance and fighting style.
- Although he and Itagaki Manabu purport to dislike each other, they still refer to each other by their first names, "Manabu" and "Kyōsuke".
- Imai is the only boxer that hasn't been knocked down in the entire series even during his spar with Miyata.
- Imai is a fan of Ippo, and he wishes to fight him, similar to Yamada Naomichi and Kojima Hisato.