Kyōsuke Imai (今井 京介, Imai Kyōsuke) is a featherweight professional boxer and the JBC featherweight champion affiliated with the Otowa Boxing Gym. He is proclaimed the eternal rival of boxing genius Manabu Itagaki, and is known for being a very talented hard puncher capable of holding his own against Ippo Makunouchi twice in spars, as well being a very huge fan of his and one of his former goals.
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 Manabu Itagaki three times, all times by knockout. While fighting Itagaki, he noticed Nanako Itagaki 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 Ippo Makunouchi. 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 Ippo Makunouchi. 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 Manabu Itagaki 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 Fumito Makino'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 Nanako Itagaki. 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 watching Ippo defeat Takuzō Karasawa at the Kōrakuen Hall, Imai ran into Itagaki. Imai told him that he was there because he intended to fight Ippo in the future, explaining that when he wins the All Japan Rookie King Tournament and becomes ranked 10th, he will have the right to challenge Ippo, planning on taking the shortest route to the title by challenging Ippo. Itagaki told him that he will stop him, but Imai replied that based on Ippo's match, it is a good reference for his fight against Itagaki. Imai asked Itagaki what he planned to do if he won against him and what would be ahead of him, telling Itagaki 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, making them look at two different things, where the difference between them will come out in their match. Imai wanted to make a bet with Itagaki, where he will do anything Itagaki wants if he won, but if Imai won, Itagaki has to introduce him to his sister. Itagaki grabbed Imai's collar, angered that he would bring such a thing into their match, but Imai was serious about it. As Itagaki was about to throw a punch, a mummified Aoki Masaru appeared to stop it, and told them not to fight. While leaving and laughing, he thought Itagaki's gym was interesting, and told Itagaki to remember what he said.
While Imai was training at the Otowa gym a week before his match against Itagaki in the East Japan Rookie King Tournament finals, he was informed by his coach that Maezono Makoto has won the West Japan Rookie King Tournament, being warned that he is a Southpaw. Imai reminded his coach that the East Japan Rookie King Tournament isn't done yet. While his coach insisted he has nothing to worry about given the fact that Imai has defeated Itagaki three times in high school, Imai refused to underestimate Itagaki. When the weigh-in arrived, Imai went to the Kōrakuen Hall. After both boxers pass the weight check, Itagaki told Imai that Nanako didn't want to go out with him. Imai claimed to have forgotten about their previous bet, since all he was thinking about was beating him.
The next day, Imai went to the Kōrakuen Hall for his East Japan Rookie King Tournament finals match against Itagaki. When Itagaki got to the ring with him, Imai felt the need to concentrate and be cautious against the defiant Itagaki. When the match began, Imai gave chase to Itagaki, who used footwork and fast lefts that Imai dodged and blocked at first until Itagaki started to land precise lefts in the gaps of Imai's block. Seeing that he can't catch Itagaki, Imai put up his guard at the centre of the ring to wait for his chance as Itagaki went in a circle around Imai throwing lefts while trying to find an open spot in his tight guard. When Imai's guard started to open and Itagaki was about to throw a big right, Imai took the chance to try and hit Itagaki's body, however, it was dodged. After barely missing another body blow, Imai noticed that Itagaki stopped moving, so he charged ahead, however, he was shocked when Itagaki came to him at close range to start an in-fight with him at the centre of the ring. Imai pushed Itagaki away with his body and chased him, which led to Imai getting hit by a short uppercut. Imai attempted to land a hit on Itagaki, however, his punches missed and some of them were countered. After the gong to end the first round sounded, Imai told his coach that Itagaki will keep coming at him, which was his intention from the start, so he plans to face him head on.
In the second round, Imai and Itagaki had an in-fight, where Imai missed his punches while Itagaki landed his for a while until Imai finally landed a hit on Itagaki's forehead. Itagaki continued fighting at close range with Imai, who was surprised that Itagaki's eyes are so alive. The second round ended during their in-fight, where Itagaki landed the most punches. Walking to his corner, Imai was puzzled by how much Itagaki changed since his amateur days. In the third round, Imai continued his in-fight with Itagaki, and was able to land two body blows after getting hit a few times. However, when Imai threw a third body blow, he was countered. Imai hit Itagaki's block, which caused a cut that opened in the last round to reopen. Imai decided he would take advantage of it, however, he had to block Itagaki's Hedgehog barrage. After being pushed to the ropes, Imai recognised Itagaki as a professional boxer. Imai exchanged punches with Itagaki while at the ropes, where both boxers land hits on each other, but Itagaki's punches land the most by the time the third round ended. At the corner, Imai reflected on how amazing Itagaki is, however, he wishes to show him that he isn't the only one who has learned to fight like a pro.
In the fourth round, Imai decided to guard until he sees a chance to land a hit. While guarding against Itagaki's Hedgehog, Imai found a chance, hitting Itagaki's guard, but still causing him to stagger. He repeated the same tactic, which made Itagaki's legs shake. Despite Itagaki's damage, Imai's attacks were barely dodged and Imai was hit by a counter that left him open for combinations. Imai dodged one of the punches and hit Itagaki with a right straight and an uppercut as he was about to fall. Imai was struck back at by Itagaki, getting hit multiple times until Imai hit Itagaki with a body blow. Itagaki stayed standing and Imai 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 blocked the incoming flurry of punches until the fourth round ended. Before heading out for the fifth round, he was encouraged by his coach to build up power and let loose, as he only needs one hit.
In the fifth round, Imai started attacking while Itagaki tried to hold on. Imai was able to push him to the ropes, but when he tried to continue his assault, Itagaki was able to dodge with the help of the ropes and lessened the damage of another attack by rolling the punch with his head. Imai hooked his right arm onto the ropes to remove Itagaki's escape route in order to land his liver blow. Imai threw follow-up punches that hit Itagaki's guard, however some were able to slip past it. Imai forced Itagaki to a corner, thinking how there is no way that he would lose to someone who isn't aiming higher, believing that Itagaki's loss was assured when he joined the Kamogawa gym. While Imai attacked Itagaki at the corner, Itagaki attacked back. Imai and Itagaki commenced an exchange match that lasted until the fifth round ended. At his corner, Imai saw Ippo go to Itagaki's corner and becomes motivated to take Itagaki down.
At the start of the final sixth round, Imai and Itagaki touched gloves. Itagaki landed his attack first with a left overhand. Imai and Itagaki traded punches until Imai downed Itagaki with a body blow, but he managed to get up. With one minute remaining, Imai's barrage of punches were blocked and dodged until one finally connects. Imai was about to throw a follow-up punch to end it as Itagaki was looking like he was about to fall, however, Itagaki launched his Hedgehog that pushed Imai back while he was guarding. After Itagaki finished his barrage, Imai tried to hit the defenceless Itagaki, however, his fist couldn't reach him. The gong sounded for the match and Itagaki fell onto Imai's held out fist, hanging onto to it with his body. Imai lost the decision by a one point difference. As Imai left the ring, he noticed Itagaki celebrating with his gym mates, and thought that the difference between them was that they put themselves in different environments, where Itagaki trained with real professionals.
Later, Imai went to the Kawai Hospital to visit Itagaki. When he came in the room, he overheard Ippo telling Itagaki that him and Imai seemed like friends since Imai held Itagaki to prevent him from falling at the end, telling Ippo to take back his words. He gave Itagaki tapes of the Western Rookie King, Hoshi Hiroyuki's matches. Itagaki remembered their promise they made before the match and ordered Imai to kneel down and apologise, which he was about to do until Nanako arrived, making him leave as Imai didn't want her to see him do that. Before he left, Imai told Itagaki that the real conclusion will be the next time they meet in the ring, wanting to postpone the promise until then.
Later, Imai visited Itagaki at the hospital, and after Kumi Mashiba checked his temperature, Imai encouraged Itagaki to leave the hospital and offered his help so that Itagaki could defeat Hoshi since if Itagaki is defeated by him, that would make two rookies stronger than him. As Itagaki was about to leave the room, Nanako blocked the way and told Imai to stop Itagaki from leaving. Realising that if Itagaki leaves, he won't be able to see Nanako, Imai pushed Itagaki to the hospital bed and struggled to make him stay until Kumi showed up and scolded Itagaki. Itagaki decided to stay, and Imai and Itagaki acted nice to each other.
When Itagaki was about to leave 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. Nanako told Imai that she thought he wasn't suppose to talk to her since he lost to Itagaki. Remembering how Itagaki was strong and proved that he has become a true professional, Imai walked away, determined to beat Itagaki in a rematch.
Imai went to the Kōrakuen Hall to watch Itagaki's final six round match for him to get his Class-A licence in order for Itagaki to fight Hoshi. Imai watched as Itagaki won by decision, however, he noticed Itagaki fighting poorly during the match, wondering what was causing him to slip up.
Imai helped Ichirō Miyata in his two-on-one spar sessions where Miyata needed an orthodox stance and a southpaw stance boxer to face him at the same time to prepare him in his match against Randy Boy Junior, who used the Switch Hitting style. After sparring against Miyata, Imai went to the Otowa gym, where he overheard Itagaki, who recently got defeated by Randy in a spar at the gym, claiming that Randy is Miyata's worst possible match up. Imai stated that he believes that Miyata can win against Randy, as he experienced his strength firsthand and was unable to hit him. Imai revealed to Itagaki and Ippo about Miyata's two-on-one spar. As Ippo left the gym, Itagaki was about to walk hoe, however, Imai wanted to go with him, claiming that he shouldn't be moving on his own as he got knocked down. Before leaving, Imai and Itagaki acknowledged that there is always someone better than them, with both agreeing that they would show Miyata and Randy one day.
As Imai walked Itagaki to his house, Itagaki asked Imai who he thought was stronger between Miyata and Randy, which he answered that it is Miyata, however, Itagaki disagreed from his experience of fighting Randy. Imai and Itagaki argued about how Imai thinks that being an out-boxer feels like a pain and Itagaki thinks that it is simple being an in-fighter. When Imai arrived to Itagaki's house, he was excited to see Nanako, and was invited to dinner by Itagaki's parents. During dinner, Imai told Itagaki's parents about having problems with living in his big house, and, when Itagaki's parents used puns, he chimed in with his own puns. After dinner, Itagaki walked Imai home and asked what Imai will do next, which Imai revealed that he would increase his strength the long way for the inevitable battle for the JBC featherweight title.
Later, after getting knocked down by Miyata in the two-on-one sparring session, Imai wanted to continue, however, Miyata's father noted that Miyata can not. After Imai was thanked by Miyata's father for sparring against his son, Imai asked how long they will continue the training since Miyata seemed to be getting hurt and is in no condition to fight. Miyata's father answered that he will focus on Miyata's recovery when the match nears, however, if he can't learn anything from the training, then he will lose, as he is still missing something. Later, Imai overheard the Kawahara gym staff claim that Miyata's two-on-one training is finished, however, he needs to learn how to use genuine uppercuts since he can't confront Randy with direct attacks, and they believe bringing the uppercut specialist Ippo to the gym would be a good way for him to learn first hand. Imai later informed Itagaki about the discussion.
After Ippo relinquished his JBC featherweight title to move to the world stage, a match between Imai, who was ranked second, and Itagaki, who was ranked first was scheduled for the vacant title. At the Otowa gym, Imai watched Ippo's next opponent, Alfredo Gonzales have a public spar. After Alfredo's sparring session, Imai's coach thought that he was strong and a gentleman as well, however, Imai did not see him as a gentleman, since he held back so much that he only used his left. Imai wanted to fight him before his coach reminded him that he has to deal with Itagaki. Imai went to the Kōrakuen Hall when his weigh-in arrived. After passing his weight check, he warned Ippo to be careful against Alfredo. The next day, Imai went to the Kōrakuen Hall for his match against Itagaki for the vacant JBC featherweight title. Before the match began, Imai felt as if it was his duty to take Itagaki down after being the reason for his potential being unleashed.
When the match began, Imai executed a flawless plan in which he trapped Itagaki in the corner at the sound of the bell, landing one punishing right body blow and left hook via an exchange which downed and damaged Itagaki extensively. When Itagaki got up, Imai went towards him at the corner with a barrage of punches that get dodged. Imai was hit during his barrage and Itagaki was about to leave the corner, however, Imai pushed Itagaki into the corner with his head pushing on Itagaki's body. After taking a hit to the head, Imai prepared to take a punch to the jaw. As he was hit in the jaw, Imai hit Itagaki with a liver blow in a dual exchange. Imai was hit with another uppercut before putting his head on Itagaki's body to push him into the corner again. Imai landed multiple body blows until Itagaki finally blocked. Noticing that Itagaki blocking his body means that he face is uncovered, Imai throws a punch to Itagaki's face, hitting him before Itagaki's incoming counter landed, sending him down. The referee ended the match immediately, resulting in Imai's victory, earning him the JBC featherweight title. After the champion belt was put on him, Imai acknowledged how strong Itagaki is, believing that if he did not stop him here, he doubts that he could have won again. He watched Ippo's match against Alfredo, which ended in Ippo's defeat by knockout in the seventh round. While Minoru Fujii and Mari Īmura congratulated Imai, he mentioned that he still can't claim to be the best in Japan despite his title.
At the Otowa gym, Imai was reading the latest Monthly Boxing Fan magazine and noticed that Ippo is going to have a come-back match.
Imai went to the Kōrakuen Hall to defend his JBC featherweight title a second time. After winning his match by a one round knockout, he was asked by an interviewer if he had any plans for the future. Imai answered that once he has a world ranking, he wants to fight two specific Japanese boxers. The interviewer asked if he is talking about Sendō Takeshi and Miyata, however, he declined, revealing that he wanted to fight the retired Ippo.
Imai went to the Kōrakuen Hall to watch Miyata's eighth OPBF featherweight title defence match, where he met Ippo at the end of the ninth round. As Miyata was struggling the entire match, Imai told Ippo how Miyata doesn't deserve to be a professional boxer, pointing out how dead the stadium's atmosphere was. After Imai claimed that a professional's job was to deliver what the fans came to see, Ippo suggested that Miyata had a reason he can't do it now. Imai refuted that Mamoru Takamura never made an excuse, and that Miyata chose to be in the featherweight class. As round ten began, Imai expressed to Ippo that Miyata's left jab looked like a "sigh", something that didn't happen when he sparred with him. Imai claimed that Miyata shouldn't be weak, 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. After Miyata won by decision, Imai revealed to Ippo how he came to watch because he was doing recon, however, he doesn't want to fight Miyata the way he is fighting now. When he heard Ippo say that he came to look for boxers that may fight the Kamogawa gym boxers and to scout out boxers to train, Imai got irritated at him for being too relaxed, wanting him to acknowledge some responsibility since Miyata and possibly others are suffering because of him retiring, and that he should be in the ring at the top after everything he has done.
When his fourth JBC featherweight title match against the JBC first ranker Hiroyuki Hoshi arrived, Imai went to the Kōrakuen Hall. When the match began, both boxers rush to the centre of the ring. Imai immediately hit Hoshi with a Cross Counter and a left hook as he slumped over. After Hoshi recovered, Imai and Hoshi began a streak of right-on-right dual exchanges that ended with Imai stumbling and getting sent to the ropes after getting hit by a right straight. Imai guarded against Hoshi's attacks and countered one of his punches, however, after getting hit by a right Seiken, Imai slumps over. Imai recovered in time to counter another Seiken. After stunning Hoshi with a liver blow after having a Seiken graze him, Imai hit Hoshi multiple times until the referee steps in to stop the match, resulting in Imai's victory. When Sendō, one of Hoshi's seconds, entered the ring to check on Hoshi, Imai stated his annoyance to Sendō about how he wanted to challenge the "New Generation", however, there isn't anyone left and he will not accept them going to the world or OPBF until they fight him. Imai was suggested by Sendō to go tell Ippo about it directly since what he said wasn't for him anyway.
|19||WIN||18-1-0||2000||Hiroyuki Hoshi||Tokyo, Japan||1(10), 2:58||TKO||4th JBC Featherweight Title Defence Match|
|18||WIN||17-1-0||1999||Unknown||Tokyo, Japan||1(10)||KO/TKO||3rd JBC Featherweight Title Defence Match|
|17||WIN||16-1-0||1999- 03||Unknown||Tokyo, Japan||1(10)||KO/TKO||2nd JBC Featherweight Title Defence Match|
|16||WIN||15-1-0||1998||Unknown||Tokyo, Japan||1(10)||KO/TKO||1st JBC Featherweight Title Defence Match|
|15||WIN||14-1-0||1998-03-21||Manabu Itagaki||Tokyo, Japan||1(10), 0:55||TKO||JBC Featherweight Title Match|
|7||LOSS||6-1-0||1995-11||Manabu Itagaki||Tokyo, Japan||6(6)||Decision||East Japan Rookie King Tournament Finals|
|6||WIN||6-0-0||1995-10||Makoto Terai||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 Ippo Makunouchi 3R (Sparring)
- VS Ippo Makunouchi 2R (Sparring)
- VS Ichirō Miyata 3R Loss Decision (Sparring)
- VS Ichirō Miyata ?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 Nanako Itagaki 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 Tsuyoshi Hamada when he first meets Ippo. Imai is probably modelled after him since they have a similar appearance and fighting style.
- Although he and Manabu Itagaki 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 Naomichi Yamada and Hisato Kojima.