Ippo Makunouchi (幕之内一歩, Makunouchi Ippo) is the eponymous protagonist of Hajime no Ippo.
He originally started boxing to try and answer one simple question: "What does it mean to be strong?". Since then he has formed a rivalry with Miyata Ichirō, Sendō Takeshi, Mashiba Ryō, a brotherly bond with Takamura Mamoru, Aoki Masaru, Kimura Tatsuya, and a deep trust for his coach, Kamogawa Genji, whom he now aims to become a world champion for to honor the coach's teachings.
His surname is Makunouchi. In Japan, surnames are listed before given names.
Ippo was raised by his mother, Makunouchi Hiroko for the majority of his childhood because Ippo's father, Makunouchi Kazuo died early in his childhood when his boat crashed in a storm. During the time when his father was missing out in the sea, Ippo went everyday to the shore to wait for his return. He believed his father's words that upon his return he will never leave Ippo and Hiroko again.
Although his father never returned, Ippo was able to satisfy himself that his father fulfilled his promise by finding the cap his father wore. After his father died, Ippo grew up assisting his mother with the family fishing boat business. During his school days, when ever something happened at school, he would come home, hiding his feelings by saying that he was okay.
It all started that day when Ippo was stopped being bullied after school and going home crying, when he was sixteen. Being saved from the bullies by a pro boxer named Takamura Mamoru. He was introduced to the sport of Boxing by him after seeing his success. Ippo decided to follow the same steps and get in the ring, with the purpose of answering "What it means to be strong?". Takamura thought he was underestimating boxing but Ippo clearly was determined about it, he wanted to change. Therefore Takamura proceeded on showing him a method worth of qualifying in the ring, to catch at least 10 leaves. Over a few days, he succesfully was able in catching 10 leaves, managing to do that with only his left. Takamura was impressed that a mere amateur managed this, and happily showed him to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym which he also trains to learn boxing. He was underestimated at first due to his appearance and kind personality but after sparring with Miyata Ichirō who was seen as a prodigy yet to be pro, in which he lost, he got accepted for showing great potential and power. He had a rematch again and Ippo this time won successfully. Coach Kamogawa Genji took him under his wing as his one and only to be taught student aside the natural born Takamura. He took the professional test and passed, and he debuted, winning and advancing after two matches for the "East Japan Rookie King Tournament". Ippo winning against all the opponents given, that some remained throughout the story and most of the rest having retired. This set up his rivalry with Miyata to have a real match one day be in the professional ring. This being the Rookie King Tournament: Finals in which Miyata failed to reach and meet Ippo as promised in the pro ring. Instead for the Finals he faced Mashiba Ryō, who defeated Miyata. Ippo was extremely furious due to a foul at first but as he learned more about his opponent and his intentions of fouling he came to a new understanding, that the situation isn't as he thought it is, after accidentally talking bad about him infront of his sister, Mashiba Kumi, who is the girl Ippo is interested in and keeps seeing her work in the nearby bakery. Ippo with a broken fist came victorious over the difficult opponent that could not give up no matter what due to his personal reasons and protecting his only family left, Kumi, who in the meantime she was heated towards Ippo due to the match. Ippo continued his road to become champion since there are ways they could face each other there again. He then faced the West's Rookie King, the "Rocky of Naniwa" in the All Japan Rookie King Tournament and became victorious, earning him the "Rookie King of the Year" as well.
He met Kumi again in the process, the sister of a rival previously fought and won and as time passed they started growing feelings for each other. His brotherly bond with Takamura, Kimura and Aoki grew as well.
Ippo had another goal blinking inside him, the strong national champion at the time. As a chance to face the champion, Ippo went through the Class A Tournament, facing the "Speed Star" Saeki Takuma and the "White Fang" Alexander Volg Zangief, in which he successfully defeated both. After winning the tournament, Ippo faced the national champion Date Eiji, in the title match. Ippo, however, lost and temporarily retired.
As the dark feelings cleared, Ippo came back stronger with a new move that his body allowed him to have, the Dempsey Roll. Winning his comeback match, he went back and faced the champion once again, this time being "Naniwa Tiger" Sendō Takeshi, a rival long awaited to be fought again. Ippo won the difficult match successfully and finally became the national champion. Kumi and Ippo's feelings for each other remained silent, even after some difficult times such as him winning over her brother, and his match with Kimura, they still continued having this outline relationship, although none expressing their feelings yet. Ippo in the meantime defended his title three times before more challengers found ways to break his signature weapon, the Dempsey Roll.
Upon defending the national championship successfully up to six times, defeating those who sought to destroy the Dempsey Roll and improving it while being the champion, he followed through with his intention to fight Miyata. As the event came closer, the promise begun to fade. Miyata was trapped inside the wheel of destiny, as a boxer from the past had appeared. The match failed to happen for the third time. This saddened Ippo to the verge of retiring but the words of Iimura Mari made him remember the reason he started boxing, to know what it means to be strong. He went and apologised to Kamogawa and decided they will try another path to the world.
He took a detour to fight some of the unique Asian national champions in order to get a world ranking, as well as the OPBF ranking, in order to possibly fight Miyata one day again as he had cleared his destined match. They had unique boxing styles, showing him the world is vast with many different types of boxers. Ippo had a difficult time dealing with them, especially with the genius Wally. He defeated them successfully each with a lesson for himself and improved drastically once again as a fighter and gained plenty of more experience, but he was lacking elsewhere, as the coach of Wally stated, Kamogawa and Ippo were headed into a great disaster. Rivals also progressed with him, by their own road to glory.
Ippo pushes forward to the world after his succesful seventh title defence, getting matched with the man ranked 2nd in the world, Alfredo Gonzales. Takamura suspected that Ippo has grown weaker. The day of the match happened, and he failed to deliver. It was nowhere near easy for both, Ippo did great damage to the world ranker but there was a gap. Sometime after, his love interest Kumi told him it is better to stop boxing. Ippo without hesitating did in fact promise her the next time he loses he would retire.
That caused a lot of thoughts of him being broken. The doctor approved that he's perfectly fine but due to getting hit a lot he's on the verge of being broken. Takamura told him there is a line that he must cross in order to advance to the rest of the world. He witnessed it first hand with the beast matches of his rivals and Takamura, attempting to understand what he meant, Ippo still wasn't nowhere near. He finally succeeded over the course of 10 months to improve the Dempsey Roll to a greater height, as well becoming far stronger. Takamura kept reminding him about that line, if Ippo will deliver in his comeback match. His opponent being a southpaw Antonio Guevara. Dealing once again great deal of damage, Ippo was ready to unleash the new weapon that he and his coach had built but with great sorrow as Ippo felt during this whole time training that something was wrong with him, he still pushed forward. Ippo had lost once again shockingly by only the fourth round without even showing a glimpse of the new evolved Dempsey Roll. After all the hard work he went through and his coach, it was finally over. He decided to retire from boxing upon the promise of Kumi.
At the request of Shinoda Tomoyuki, he became a second for Kimura, Aoki and Itagaki for their matches. Ippo then scouted for boxers to take under his wing and found Taihei who is actually the younger brother of Aoki and eventually Kintarō Kaneda, who both joined the Kamogawa Boxing Gym as Ippo's first actual students. While training his two new students, Ippo experienced matches and words from his former coach that opened Ippo's mind and made him think back on his previous mistakes.
|Tokyo, Japan||4(10), 2:45||KO|| "10 MONTHS IN THE MAKING"|
Failed Comeback Match; Retirement
|Tokyo, Japan||7(10), 1:17||TKO|| "GO TO THE WORLD!"|
World Title Preliminary Match
|Tokyo, Japan||1(10), 2:07||TKO|| "OPERATION WORLD DOMINATION II"|
JBC Featherweight Title
|Tokyo, Japan||8(10), 1:35||TKO|| "IN THE JUNGLE"
"Survival Match of Asian Champions"
|Tokyo, Japan||8(10), 2:37||TKO|| "WINNER TAKES ALL!!"|
"Survival Match of Asian Champions"
|Tokyo, Japan||4(10), 2:30||TKO|| "SCRATCH"|
"Survival Match of Asian Champions"
|Tokyo, Japan||6(10), 1:00||TKO||"The Challenge for the 7th Defence"|
|Tokyo, Japan||2(10), 2:15||TKO||"The Challenge for the 6th Defence"|
|Tokyo, Japan||7(10), 1:15||TKO|| "DRAGON SLAYER"|
5th Title Defence
|Tokyo, Japan||7(10), 2:15||KO|| "SUBMARINE WARS"|
4th Title Defence
|Tokyo, Japan||1(10), 0:32||TKO|| "BATTLE OF HAWK"|
3rd Title Defence
|Tokyo, Japan||2(10), 2:42||KO|| "PROOF OF POWER" |
2nd Title Defence
|Tokyo, Japan||5(10), 2:33||TKO|| "FIRST STEP" |
1st Title Defence
|Tokyo, Japan||7(10), 1:34||KO|| "LALLAPALLOOZA" |
Second JBC Featherweight Title Match
|Tokyo, Japan||2(10), 2:00||TKO|| "ROAD BACK"|
|Tokyo, Japan||5(10), 2:32||TKO|| "CHALLENGE FOR THE THRONE"|
First JBC Featherweight Title Match
Alexander Volg Zangief
|Tokyo, Japan||5(8), 1:21||KO|| "WHITE FANG"|
Class-A Tournament Finals
|Tokyo, Japan||4(6), 2:12||TKO|| "SPEED STAR"|
Class-A Tournament Round 1
|Tokyo, Japan||1(10), 2:58||TKO|| "TWO ROOKIE KINGS"|
Rose 1st JBC Ranking
|Tokyo, Japan||3(6), 3:00||TKO||All Japan Rookie King Tournament|
|Tokyo, Japan||3(6), 2:13||TKO||East Japan Rookie King Tournament Finals|
|Tokyo, Japan||1(4), 2:59||KO||East Japan Rookie King Tournament Semi-Finals|
|Tokyo, Japan||4(4), 2:58||KO||East Japan Rookie King Tournament Quarter-Finals|
|Tokyo, Japan||2(4), 2:52||KO||East Japan Rookie King Tournament First Round|
|Tokyo, Japan||1(4), 2:50||KO|
|Tokyo, Japan||3(4), 2:35||TKO||Pro Debut|
This list does not include the numerous spars Ippo has had with his fellow gymmates.
|Preceded by||Title||Succeeded by|
|Sendō Takeshi||JBC Featherweight Champion|
November 20, 1993-1997
|Okita Keigo||All Japan Featherweight Rookie King||Shigeta Akira|
|Okita Keigo||East Japan Featherweight Rookie King||Shigeta Akira|
Throughout the story, he has met a lot of different people, with half of them being rivals during his time as a professional boxer.
Striking a resemblance to his father, he has black, short shaggy hair and thick eyebrows. At one point, Ippo shaved his head as a way to take the guilt of having injured Taihei after he slapped him until it slowly grew back. His body, while being in the featherweight division, is stressed as extremely muscular. In terms of skin tone, Ippo is tanned. His eye colour is dark brown in the manga, and a mix of green and yellow in the anime. It should be noted that Ippo has a larger than average penis, a quality apparently not uncommon amongst featherweights as Sendō has one as well, according to Takamura.
As a child, Ippo was a very shy, kind and obedient boy who was also very strong-willed and stubborn. He carries most of these personality traits as he got older. He is usually a kind and reserved person who dislikes fighting, and because of that he had been bullied since grade school. He would also come home after school, holding back his tears and try to convince his mother that everything was alright after being bullied.
Despite his strength and courage, Ippo still behaves rather meek out of the ring and often humbles himself around his rivals. For example, even though he has defeated both Mashiba and Sendō, he fears Mashiba and tries to avoid discussing a second rematch with Sendō whenever he is around. He also continued to be intimidated by Umezawa, his former bully, long after he began boxing. He has a great deal of respect for his gym-mate Takamura and former Japanese Featherweight Champion Date and he was completely shocked when World Featherweight Champion Ricardo requested a spar with him.
His dream is to one day face Miyata in the pro ring, and the two of them view each other as eternal rivals. They both also influence each other to keep on boxing. Despite these feelings towards each other, they appear to also view each other as friends and Ippo even refers to Miyata as "Miyata-kun". Because Ippo tends to know a lot about Miyata, people tend to call him a Miyata Otaku, while his gym mates jokingly imply that he must be "gay for Miyata". Miyata is a person Ippo will never forget. At the same time, Ippo aims to become equal to Takamura in terms of strength.
Kamogawa puts him through strict training and the two of them have a strong teacher-student bond. Ippo trusts Kamogawa and has faith in his teachings, while Kamogawa believes that Ippo may be the one who will eventually realize his World Championship dream. Takamura has said that Kamogawa seems more like Ippo's father than his coach, and because Ippo's father died when he was young he begins to view Kamogawa in that way. When Ippo decided to be a second, he wanted to raise boxers alongside Kamogawa, as he believed he left a bad taste in his mouth when he retired.
Ippo can also be fixated on a certain thing, specifically the Diagonal Dempsey Roll, being so single-minded that he gets overheated, frustrated and loses his boxing style.
Ippo is quite friendly, and many of his rivals have become friends of his, most notably are Miyata, Sendō, Date, Sanada, Volg, and Kobashi, whom all still keep in touch with him from time to time. He is well liked by his gymmates, especially Takamura, Aoki, and Kimura. Even though he still has the personality of a young boy, he still manages to serve as a good senpai for his kouhai Itagaki.
When it comes to love, Ippo is definitely a late bloomer, he is naive, pure-hearted, and awkward. He is in love with Kumi whom he dates frequently, and she feels the same for him, but because of the silent pressure of Kumi's older brother Mashiba Ryō, the "attacks" of reporter Iimura and Nanako, and the meddling of Takamura and the others, their relationship has yet to progress much. The one time Ippo confessed to her, Kumi had fallen asleep after drinking too much alcohol, and unfortunately didn't hear it.
Because of his personality, Ippo is seldom seen as being angry before a fight, even if his opponent insults him or his boxing skills. However, it has been shown on rare occasions that he is capable of displaying anger whenever an opponent says or hurts someone close to him, or does something to look down on the sport of boxing, which he loves. Such occasions have been when he saw Sawamura intentionally commit fouls in his previous matches, despite having the upperhand, and then later on when he struck Kumi with a sharp jab, cutting her face. Another occasion when his opponent, Kojima, insulted his previous opponents, both in person and publicly in a magazine, and also insulting Kamogawa's teaching methods as they were fault. This resulted in Ippo displaying a new attitude, even going so far as to calmly state to Takamura, when asked if he would have any problems, that "this won't take long", referring to the match. Ippo's anger side also shows when he sees someone getting bullied, confronting the bullies.
As an In-Fighter, having one of the best punches in Japan, he has any noteworthy milestones such as fighting in the All Japan Rookie King Tournament, winning in the Class A Tournament, and once crowned as the Featherweight JBC champion with an impressive KO rate of 100%. His punching power, durability, and fighting spirit are considered to be his greatest attributes; each is unparalleled in Japan. His punching power in particular is said to be among the world's best, with the implication that Ippo's punches are comparable to World Champion Ricardo Martinez. His style has had vast improvements throughout the series, and now consist of sways, liver blows, and a Sunday Punch: the Dempsey Roll. His strong flurry of blows have earned him the title Wind God. He is the number one In-Fighter in Japan.
Over the course of his boxing career, Ippo has learned many boxing techniques, even learning techniques during a match, such as the Tornado Jolt and the Southpaw stance. He picked up Kamogawa's technique, the Tekken by digging logs into the ground using a hammer and also picked up the Heart Break Shot from Date. He even came up with one of his own, the Dempsey Roll, later on improving it to the New Dempsey Roll, and even more recently, the Diagonal Dempsey Roll.
Ippo is notoriously simple-minded. In nearly all of his matches, difficulties arose when his opponent did something he had not prepared for, such as Malcolm Gedo's Magic Punch and Wally's corner work. In fact, he lost the championship match with Date Eiji entirely because he failed to grasp how the champ was negating the power behind his punches. Interestingly, the few times Ippo did something his opponents didn't expect, he won the match (such as his southpaw stance in his first fight, or his brawling stance in his match with Kojima). Another weakness of Ippo's is the fact that he is mildly predictable. As explained by OPBF champion Miyata, Ippo always steps forward and attacks head on, a trait that a cautious boxer could easily take advantage of.
Because of his height, Ippo is at a perpetual disadvantage outside of close-range. He has no options but to move forward in every one of his fights. His short reach is arguably the main reason he lost to Alfredo Gonzales.
It is stated by Kamogawa that his signature move Dempsey Roll was not only a strength, but also a weakness. The Dempsey Roll is weak against counters.
It should be noted since his defeat against Gonzales, Ippo has begun to show symptoms attributed towards Punch-Drunk syndrome, as presented after his fight where he was unable to draw in a straight line, with his hands shaking uncontrollably. However, after he was forced to take a month off from the gym he later returned without any symptoms. Kamogawa and his gym-mates still caution that his fighting style involves taking too many hits; to deal with this, he has developed a more evasive version of the Dempsey Roll.
Another weakness is his inexperience with southpaws, as seen when he fought Antonio. As the southpaws leg and hand are in reverse, Ippo had trouble seeing how far away Antonio was and kept tripping over his leg.
In Other Media
Being the main character of the Hajime no Ippo series, Ippo is playable in every video game from Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting on the Playstation, to the Hajime no Ipo: The Fighting! on the Playstation 3.
Real Fighting Hajime no Ippo: The Glorious Stage!!
Gotō Kyōji plays as Ippo in this stage play adaption.