Kenta Kobashi (小橋健太, Kobashi Kenta) is a semi-recurring character in Hajime no Ippo.
He is a retired out-boxer and former JBC junior featherweight champion. His main fights in the series are against Makunouchi Ippo and Hayami Ryūichi. He later works as a trainer affiliated with the Ōtaki Boxing Gym.
His surname is Kobashi. In Japan, surnames are listed before given names.
Kobashi entered in the East Japan Rookie King Tournament. His first opponent was Takahashi Kōichi, defeating him by decision, moving him to the second round. His second opponent was Yoshida Mitsuo, one of the four seeds of the tournament. Kobashi defeated Yoshida with a decision and moved on to the third round, with his opponent being Makunouchi Ippo.
Kobashi went to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym and watched Ippo training through the window, gathering notes. When Ippo left the gym, Kobashi ran away, dropping his notebook. He was then met by Ippo, who gave the notebook back to him. Before walking away, Kobashi explained to Ippo that while he doesn't have an outstanding punch or technique, those aren't the only thing that matter in boxing.
At the Ōtaki Boxing Gym, after having a spar, his trainer, Yasuda, cheered him up by telling him of the boxer Maxie "Slapsie" Rosenbloom who achieved 222 victories, but only won 19 by KO. Yasuda decided to treat Kobashi to soba as the two discussed his upcoming fight. Though, Kobashi was extremely nervous, he still had the confidence that he could win.
At the Kōrakuen Hall's dressing room on the day of the match, Kobashi had an image in his head on how the fight will go, which was to have Ippo defeated easily. When the match began, Kobashi quickly used the Cross Arm Block and defensive motions, successfully blocking and avoiding Ippo's aggression. After Kobashi clinches, he threw jabs, hitting Ippo multiple times until Kobashi was pushed to the corner. However, before Ippo could attack, round one ended. In round two, Kobashi's plan became effective when Ippo became visibly exhausted. Kobashi further blocked and read Ippo's combinations in round three, making his opponent more exhausted.
In the fourth round, Kobashi threw a powerful straight to Ippo's jaw, who in turn buckled from the unguarded attack. Kobashi, surprised at his own strength, resolved to finish the match with his own two fists, wishing for a KO victory more than ever. However Kobashi got knocked out by Ippo in the last seconds of the match when he missed an attack, losing the match.
Kobashi, in the resting room, apologised to Yasuda for losing. In turn, Yasuda informed him that the one straight he landed was a great punch, and that Kobashi should start over again.
While jogging, he spotted Ippo and spoke with him about Ippo's next opponent, Hayami Ryūichi and how he was studying him as Kobashi initially thought he would beat Ippo. However, he revealed that he could not find a way of defeating his Shotgun. He then told Ippo that he would be continuing boxing, training his muscles as he felt stronger and his punch was coming around. He then wished for Ippo to win the tournament, as he has unparalleled strength, pointing out that his nose felt it first hand.
Kobashi made a comeback in the junior featherweight division, where he became ranked second. After Sanada Kazuki relinquished his belt to move up a class, Kobashi faced the first seed of the Junior Featherweight class, Hayami Ryūichi, for the vacant title. As the fight reaches it's climax, Hayami appears to have the lead in the points, and he has the obvious support of the audience, which is mostly comprised of young women. When the round ends, Hayami states he will not get careless, as he learned that lesson the hard way in the past. On the other corner, Kobashi says he does not care about the points, and wants to have the feeling he first experienced against Ippo.
The next round starts and Hayami takes the initiative but Kobashi soon returns. They go back and forward with each of them critically hurting the other and remembering their matches against Ippo, but they soon stop dodging, and concentrate only on hurting each other. Kobashi suddenly lands a punch to the jaw, sending Hayami to the floor and causing his corner to throw in the towel while he is unconscious.
Kobashi met with Ippo and Itagaki Manabu. Kobashi revealed that he was a "Former" champion. He added that he wasn't able to defend his title once, and he believed he only became champion with a stroke of luck. He told Ippo that he retired, since he delivered his formal notice of resignation. Itagaki thought Kobashi could made a comeback, but Kobashi had no regrets over it. He explained to Ippo that he was lucky to have met him. He mentioned that his match with Ippo help him. If it wasn't for that, he wouldn't have been able to fight his hardest. Ippo asked him what he planned to do now, but Kobashi mentioned he picked up trainee mitts a month previous. Even though it was difficult, Kobashi though it was really worth doing. Ippo cheered him on. Kobashi mentioned that Sendō was going to have a comeback match soon, and the upcoming Rookie King Tournament. Itagaki thought that the year Kobashi took part, there were a lot of great rookies. Kobashi agreed, with some many who wore the belt like Sendō, Mashiba, Miyata, and Ippo. Ippo added Kobashi name too. Itagaki was glad he wasn't part of that generation since it was so talented. Kobashi pointed out that the victor of it was Ippo, and everyone else that wasn't previous mentioned have already retired. He told Ippo that he was standing at Japan's apex in a harsh world, and defend his title 4 times. It wasn't by being lucky, since he did it by his own strength. He wanted Ippo to go as far as he can. He asked Ippo what his motive/goal, or why he started boxing. He remembered that he simply wanted to get stronger, so he worked hard at it, but he still can't come up with the answer. As Kobashi was leaving, he told Ippo that he planned to keep watching him.
|Tokyo, Japan||8(10)||KO||Junior Featherweight Title|
|Tokyo, Japan||4(4) 2:58||KO||
East Japan Rookie King Tournament Quarter Finals
|Tokyo, Japan||4(4), 3:00||Decision||East Japan Rookie King Tournament Round 2|
|Tokyo, Japan||?||Decision||East Japan Rookie King Tournament Round 1|
|Preceded by||Title||Succeeded by|
|Sanada Kazuki||JBC Junior Featherweight Champion||
While muscular and average in height, Kobashi is known for his weak and fragile body despite being in the featherweight division. His appearance is largely without special quirks, with a pale skin tone and short black hair. His eyebrows are of average thickness, matching the colour of his dark eyes.
Kobashi possesses an openly shy, mellow attitude with a lacking in self-confidence. This attitude is the result of Kobashi possessing relatively weak punches, being forced to adopt an out-boxing style that many consider to be "cowardly", and he is regularly mocked by his peers for lacking any punching power. He is shown to be extremely uncomfortable around most people and displays a want to avoid any social interaction with others. However Kobashi has a (typically dormant) fighting spirit that occasionally emerges during matches, as seen in his match against Ippo where he, despite his fragile body, wanted to win against Ippo with a KO because he "felt it in his fist". After his loss, Kobashi shows a very encouraging personality towards Ippo, whom he requests to win in the tournament for the sake of both he and Ippo's previous opponents.
Kobashi's boxing style is considered that of a lower key compared to other characters in the series. Not sharing the great skill of his fellow featherweight boxers, Kobashi usually relies on dull tactics such as simple jabs, footwork, clinches and a strong cross-arm block to achieve victory through points, rendering his style extremely defensive and absent of any blows with a knockout intent. Kobashi's boxing stance has his left arm outstretched, positioning himself to be a difficult target and keeping his opponent at the perfect distance for scoring. While usually lacking hugely in power, Kobashi has shown some hidden potential for great strength in his matches against Ippo and Hayami.
- Cross-Arm Block
- Orthodox Boxing Techniques (most prominently the jab and on one occasion the straight)
Kobashi's physique is generally inferior. In particular, he lacks a strong punch - a weakness brought up by his sparring partners and coach. Consequently, his fighting style is more defense-orientated and focuses on winning by points as opposed to by KO.
Kobashi's major weakness, as displayed in both his fight against Ippo and Hayami, is his innate desire to win by knockout, as his drive to land clean hits against his opponent clouds his focus and results in him dropping his guard. After a successful one-two against Ippo, Kobashi abandoned his game plan of winning by points and attempts to fight toe-to-toe with him, ultimately losing against the heavy hitter. This is also evident in his fight against Hayami; despite ultimately winning the match by K.O, Kobashi still took several clean hits due to his recklessness.
- He shares the same name with real-life professional wrestler and promotional star Kobashi Kenta.