Kenta Kobashi (小橋健太, Kobashi Kenta) is a semi-recurring character in Hajime no Ippo.
He is a trainer affiliated with the Ōtaki Boxing Gym and a retired out-boxer and former JBC junior featherweight champion. His main fights in the series are against Makunouchi Ippo and Hayami Ryūichi.
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.
Some time later, Kobashi made a comeback in the junior featherweight division, where he became ranked second. After Sanada Kazuki relinquished his belt to move up a weight class, Kobashi faced the first ranker of the junior featherweight class, Hayami Ryūichi, for the vacant JBC title. As the fight reached it's climax, the points were in Hayami's favour. When the seventh round ended, Kobashi told Yasuda that he did not care about the points, wanting to have the feeling he first experienced against Ippo. In the eighth round, Kobashi managed to land a hit on Hayami's glass jaw, sending him down. Hayami's coach threw his towel into the ring, causing the match to be over, resulting in Kobashi becoming the JBC junior featherweight champion.
When Kobashi met with Ippo and Itagaki Manabu, he revealed that he is a former champion and that he was unable to defend his title even once. He also revealed that he retired without regrets, thankful to Ippo after fighting him as it helped him fight his hardest, and that he has also became a trainer. They discussed the upcoming East Japan Rookie King Tournament, which Kobashi noted that Sendō, Mashiba, Miyata, and Ippo have worn title belts from his generation of the tournament, while the rest retired. Kobashi voiced how Ippo defending his title four times were not from luck, but from his own strength and wants Ippo to go as far as he can. Seeing how Ippo was unsatisfied about his goal, Kobashi wished to watch to see how far Ippo will go until he is satisfied.
Kobashi arrived to the Kōrakuen Hall and watched Hayami's match, which ended in his loss. Kobashi, having spotted Ippo while watching, went to talk to him, revealing how he watched Hayami's previous matches as well and gathered that Hayami is on the verge of breaking due to accumulated damage. Kobashi asked Ippo if he was satisfied since he retired and if he has achieved his goal. Though Ippo compared himself to Hayami in that he is unable to take hits, Kobashi asked if it is wrong of him to have his hopes up for him, to which Ippo quickly answered that he should. Kobashi wished to not try and change Ippo's mind about his retirement and explained how he thinks that Hayami got to impatient and should have tried to not take too much damage for one or two years, that way he would potentially return to his former self. When Takamura arrived and insulted Hayami, Kobashi tried to rebuke him before being threatened. As it was time for Ippo to be with Kimura Tatsuya as his second for his match, Kobashi went to the audience area after wishing him good luck. After watching Kimura win and laughing at Ippo's antics during which, Kobashi watched outside the venue, as Ippo expressed that he has no reason to return to the ring to Hayami.
When the Date Boxing Gym held a sparring tournament for boxers who haven't debuted yet, Kobashi was on of the trainers to go with his students. When Ippo arrived with his students Kintarō Kaneda and Aoki Taihei, Kobashi got introduced to them. As the sparring tournament was finishing up, Fujii Minoru showed up and revealed to everyone that Sendō Takeshi was able to down Ricardo Martinez in a spar and that Sendō was going to fight Alfredo Gonzales, with the winner earning the right to challenge Ricardo. The news left Kobashi impressed and predicted that Sendō would win. As trainer Oda Yūsuke tried to argue about Ippo's decision of retiring, Kobashi mentioned that it is Ippo's decision and he has no right to say anything about it. After Ippo left, Kobashi asked Date Eiji what it takes to make a comeback, to which Date answered that one needs passion; a strong fire in ones heart.
|Tokyo, Japan||8(10)||KO||Champion Carnival|
JBC Junior Featherweight Title Match
|Unknown matches to rise to rank second in the JBC|
|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||4(4), 3:00||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.
Main Article: Kobashi Kenta/Gallery
- In the ending credits of Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting! anime, Kobashi is shown working at a Video Rental Store.
- He shares the same name with real-life professional wrestler and promotional star Kobashi Kenta.