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The Mountain Training Arc is the thirteenth story arc in the series and the third in the National Champion Road Saga.

Makunouchi Ippo's title match against the champion Sendō Takeshi has been decided after Sendō's second title defence. Date Eiji's path to fight the world champion Ricardo Martinez begins as he fights the fifth ranker in the WBA Jeff Brooks. In order for Ippo to train for his upcoming title match against Sendō and Takamura Mamoru to train for his title defence against Itō Takaaki, Kamogawa Genji decides to take the gym members to the Pension Yoshio in the mountains where his old rival named Nekota Ginpachi lives. When they get back to the gym, a Southpaw named Shigeta Akira who will be Sendō's next opponent is requesting to spar with Ippo.

Summary

Individual Thoughts About the Dempsey Roll

Sendo claiming that the Dempsey Roll won't work against him

Sendō claiming that the Dempsey Roll won't work.

Walking away from the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium amazed after watching Sendō's title defence win against Saeki, Kamogawa and Yagi are approached by Sendō, who asks the two to let him fight Ippo as soon as possible. Kamogawa tells him that he will, as Ippo will be the number one contender soon, but warns Sendō that they will be taking the JBC championship and belt. Sendō sees why Kamogawa would say that, as he saw the Dempsey Roll with his own eyes, but claims that the Dempsey Roll will not work on him. Their conversation gets interrupted by Manabu and his friends telling Sendō that Yanaoka is getting angry waiting on him. At the Makunouchi Fishing Boat, Ippo watches Sendō's title defence against Saeki on TV, amazed how Sendō won, believing Sendō to be predicting his opponent's movements using a sixth sense. Ippo is then visited by Kamogawa, who asks for Ippo's reaction to the match. Ippo expresses his shock of him beating someone as fast as Saeki in a minute, noting Sendō's growth after each match to be inhuman. Kamogawa claims that the line could be said about him too, and now Sendō has become a true monster in his quest to beat him. Kamogawa tells Ippo that his next match will be against the champion Sendō, urging him to win and take the belt. Ippo feels that even a non-title match against Sendō would suffice, as he feels as if their last match ever ended. As Kamogawa begins to leave, Ippo tells him that he believes that the Dempsey Roll won't work on Sendō. Kamogawa simply instructs to rest his body for the fight and to not think about it.

Date defeating Brooks

Date defeating Brooks.

The next day at the Kamogawa Boxing Gym, Kamogawa gets the "okay" from the Naniwa Boxing Commission, finalising the match between Ippo and Sendō in November after Sendō's second title defence in September. Ippo gets informed about it, and notices that Sendō has a match every two months. Takamura points out the advantages to the high-paced match schedule giving Sendō a blade of concentration. Kamogawa announces that there will be a training camp for Ippo and Takamura that will be difficult. Later, Ippo and Takamura goes to the Kōrakuen Hall, where Date is fighting the fifth ranker in the WBA, Jeff Brooks. Date defeats Brooks by knockout in the ninth round after using his Heart Break Shot, making him ranked fifth in the WBA rankings. Ippo and Takamura meet Date in the hall, where Date claims that he will be paying attention to Ippo's fight against Sendō and Ippo's Dempsey Roll, a technique he deems scary and that he would have been in trouble if Ippo used it on him during their match. Date tells Ippo that he believes that he is not used to the technique for an opponent like Sendō who never stops pushing forward. Ippo realises this, as the Dempsey Roll is a technique that can not work against someone who is not pressured into stepping back. Date comments on Ippo's Dempsey Roll before leaving, hinting that it is not "complete". When the time for the training camp arrives, Ippo, Takamura, Aoki, and Kimura are prepared for the beach. However, Kamogawa reveals that the training camp is actually in the mountains where an old friend of his is letting him use his pension to train his boxer's strength, concentration, and nerves.

Mountain Training - Nekota Ginpachi

Kamogawa gym's arrivial at the Pension Yoshio

Kamogawa gym arrives at the Pension Yoshio.

The Kamogawa gym members travel to the mountains, seeing a sign warning drivers of bears in the area along the way. When they arrive at the Pension Yoshio, they meet an elderly man named Nekota Ginpachi, who Yagi informs the others that he was Kamogawa's rival back in his boxing days, has a quick brawl with Kamogawa when they first look at each other. Nekota recognises Ippo and Takamura due to reading boxing magazines, but fails to recognise Aoki and Kimura. Kamogawa has Takamura stay with him to talk about his next match while Shinoda takes Ippo, Aoki, and Kimura out to do roadwork in the woods, which Nekota warns the four of the bears. As Ippo and the others begin to run back to Nekota's home, he notes how the tough roadwork is good training for shifting weight. Ippo then runs faster when he sees a bear behind him, while the other three soon follow. Later that night, Nekota points out how lucky they were that they were going downhill as bears are fast going uphill but are not comfortable going downhill. When Ippo expressed his worry about doing the roadwork the next day because of the bear, Nekota tells him that he will prepare a simple way to avoid the bears.

Ippo and Kamogawa talking about the Dempsey Roll at Pension Yoshio

Kamogawa explaining one of the Dempsey Roll's strengths and weaknesses.

While everyone is sleeping, Ippo has trouble sleeping and goes outside, recalling when Date claimed that the Dempsey Roll is not complete. As Ippo thinks about how the completed form would look like, Kamogawa steps outside, speculating that he is thinking about the Dempsey Roll. Kamogawa notes how the Dempsey Roll is strong against fighters who step back, but weak against ones that move forward like Sendō. He instructs Ippo to think of the different factors of the Dempsey Roll, referring to how the creator of the technique, Jack Dempsey, forced his opponent to step back before using it. Kamogawa further explains that in order to get closer to the completed form of the Dempsey Roll, he has to observe his opponent and link the elements the best way then deliver the finishing blow, mastering every element combination. He then tells Ippo that forcing Sendō to back up will be harder than master the Dempsey Roll and that the goal of the training camp is to gain him the power to win an exchange of blows against any opponent and the confidence to hit no matter what.

Mountain Training - Sakki

Hachi running back with Ippo after everyone thought he was a bear

Ippo running back with Hachi, who Aoki and Kimura thought was a bear.

The next day, Nekota gave Ippo, Aoki, and Kimura (Takamura did not want one) bells to go around their necks to prevent bears to go near them, as bears are afraid of the sound. When Ippo, Takamura, Aoki, and Kimura get to a stopping point in their roadwork, Takamura has the three head back with him as Kamogawa has a new training menu for them. Along the way, Ippo notes how the bells are keeping the bears away. Ippo then gets "attacked" by a "bear", making Aoki and Kimura run in panic to tell everyone at the Pension Yoshio what happened. Nekota quickly gets into his hunting gear and points his hunting rifle to save Ippo. However, Ippo comes out of the forest path with a dog, wondering why everyone left him behind. Nekota recognises the dog as his own, named "Hachi". With everyone gathered, Kamogawa explains that they will be at the Pension Yoshio for a week, with the goal of increasing endurance and confidence. He has Shinoda train Aoki and Kimura by having them do 200 squats in the river, Yagi riding on Takamura's back as he runs, and Ippo chopping logs with an axe.

Nekota causes Aoki, Kimura, and Takamura to get angry with him when he tried to help. He then went to where Ippo is training and hid himself until Ippo notices him. Ippo asks Nekota to show him how to chop wood. After Nekota chopped many wood logs, Ippo is amazed. Nekota explains how he has been doing it since he came fro the army. He then shows Ippo his extremely muscled back in result of the action of axing logs everyday. Nekota tells Ippo that he knows Kamogawa instructed him to do the training as a way to gain power to push Sendō. He warns Ippo that if all he does is push with power, even if he wins, he would break down, with power-to-power seeming like a good option, however it has devastating lasting effects. Ippo guesses he is talking about the Punch Drunk syndrome. Nekota tells a story about himself to Ippo, how he was a boxer that never stepped back no matter how many times he fell he stood back up, however he was forced to retire due to brain damage. He explains that it took him five years to live a normal life again, but even now it hasn't fully stopped as his hand still shakes. He concludes that it is a inevitable conclusion for types like Ippo. Ippo feels that he can still not run away, as Sendō is not an opponent that he can beat running away. Nekota then reveals that in a hitting match, he doesn't just use his hands, that there is a way to punch without punching which can double his punches. Kamogawa then recalls getting cornered by that method by Nekota before. Ippo asks what it is, which Kamogawa tells him that it is not something that can simply be explained and for him to come to the ring once he is finished cutting wood.

When everyone goes inside the house, Kamogawa begins his explanation by using what seems like a regular feint on Ippo. Kamogawa compares a well made fake picture that has been given a "soul", being undetected as being fake for decades, to a feint that has been given a "soul" by adding blood lust to it, with the opponent knowing the punch is coming, but it never comes. Kamogawa then has everyone look at the pictures on the wall, which Nekota reveals that the two boxers fighting each other are him and Kamogawa, shocking the four boxers. Kamogawa tells everyone the story during the World War II era. when they were about to lose the war, Kamogawa and Nekota fought in the ring. During a match in the outdoors, Kamogawa pushed Nekota towards the ropes with his power. Kamogawa then saw a punch coming towards him, however, it was Nekota using the Sakki. Nekota then attacked the confused Kamogawa until Kamogawa went down, resulting in his first knockout loss. Back in the present, Nekota boasts how the record between them is 3-2, getting a compliment Aoki and Kimura. This causes a fight between Kamogawa and Nekota over their record. Yagi notes that the actual record between them is two wins, two losses, and one draw, with neither accepting the draw. Ippo recalls the match between Sendō and Saeki where Saeki made a face where he saw something that frightened him, realising that Sendō used the Sakki during the match. With Ippo believing that a normal feint would get the same reaction, Takamura decides to show him a Sakki of his own so that Ippo understands.

Takamura's Sakki

Takamura using Sakki on Ippo.

Everyone goes outside, where Takamura invites Ippo to the ring for Masu boxing, a spar with no physical contact. When the spar begins, Ippo tests a feint on Takamura, and then accidentally hits him with a full swing. Takamura then begins sending full swings with Ippo dodging. Ippo begins seeing punches coming towards him, but they either never come or they turn into another punch. When Ippo finally understands what Sakki is from Takamura, the spar stops. Aoki claims to understand the theory behind Sakki and gets into the ring with Takamura. Aoki enters his Frog Punch position and asks Takamura if he can see his frog jumping, which causes Takamura to kick him. Nekota explains that just as an animal, he must gain full control of his five senses as the Sakki is born from it. The boxers then continue training until night comes. That night, Kamogawa and Nekota go into the ring, commenting how the ring being just ropes wrapped around logs reminds them of the past. Nekota makes a shot at Kamogawa by saying that he merely needs a gong to take him out. In the house, while talking about Kamogawa and Nekota's past, Takamura hits a gong, causing Hachi to bark outside. This causes everyone to run outside where they see Kamogawa and Nekota knocking each other out. While sleeping, Ippo compares Kamogawa and Nekota's draw that they can not accept to his match against Sendō in the All Japan Rookie King Tournament, feeling that the match never ended.

Mountain Training - Encounter With a Bear

Takamura enounters a bear

Takamura encountering a bear.

On the final day of the training camp, everyone continues training. After Aoki and Kimura finish 200 squats, they notice Ippo slowing down while mitt training with Kamogawa. Shinoda notes that just like planting a seed, training the physical strength won't be visible until three months, which is around the time Ippo will fight Sendō. Shinoda predicts that using the power of the Dempsey Roll to best Sendō's power is possible, and that only Kamogawa knows if Ippo can use the Sakki on Sendō. Aoki and Kimura goes back to training as Ippo proceeds to chop wood. Elsewhere, after doing ten laps, Takamura is ready to do another set. When Nekota deems Takamura inhuman, Takamura claims that he has risen to pure perfection and that no human can defeat him. As Ippo is chopping wood, he is approached by Nekota. Ippo expresses his discomfort in fighting Sendō a second time. Understanding his feelings as he had experienced fighting a man more than once, Nekota explains how his rematch with kamogawa felt like and that if one of them looked away, they would have lost. When Yagi came back, Nekota asks where hachi went. Yagi told him that he is with takamura as he is still doing roadwork. When Ippo points out that he did not take his bear deterrent, Yagi believes that he has a low chance of running into a bear. Elsewhere, while doing roadwork, Takamura encounters a bear.

Takamura's victory against a bear

Takamura defeating a bear.

Being in no position to run, Takamura deduces that the only option is to fight the black bear. Takamura becomes shocked at the bear's speed, having to duck over as it destroyed a tree behind him with a swipe of its claw. The bear attacks again and Takamura's right shoulder gets clawed as the bear throws him. Takamura dodges the bear's next attack and hits the bear with a full-powered right on its face. However, the bear quickly attacks him, leaving a claw mark on his chest, causing Takamura to think that he has no chance of winning. At the pension, as the other notice Takamura being late, Ippo wonders if Takamura could defeat a bear if he met one. Aoki and Kimura believes that he could not be able to. When Ippo asks if bears have a weakness, Yagi claims their weakness if their forehead, which hunters aim at, though it is with their gun and not their fist as it would not be possible to do much damage. As Takamura began to lose focus and thinking that it is the end, he remembers Kamogawa, Aoki, Kimura, Ippo, and the audience cheering for him, not wanting it to end as the hall and them are waiting for him. Takamura lands a counter on the bear, however it still stood. Takamura then decides to attack the bear until it goes down. After it went down, Takamura does a victory pose on it, soon noticing that it is still alive. Angry at the bear, Takamura kicks it until he notices Hachi barking and sees two bear cubs, stopping his assault and running back to the pension.

Takamura crying while eating the bear he knocked out

Takamura crying while eating bear nabe.

When Takamura returns, Ippo, Aoki, and Kimura notices him bleeding. Takamura claims that he knocked out a bear, however no one believes him, thinking that he got injured and ran for his life. After Takamura got scolded by Kamogawa and bandaged up, Nekota arrives with dinner ready. Nekota notes that it is a dinner that Takamura requested: a bear nabe. Nekota comments on how the meat is fresh and that it came from a huge bear that was already weakened. When Takamura asked if the bear had two bear cubs near it, Nekota claims that there were two that ran away. Realising that the bear nabe Nekota made was the bear that he let live for the bear cubs, Takamura begins crying as he eats the bear nabe in respect.

Nekota sees the Kamogawa crew off

Nekota and Hachi seeing the Kamogawa crew off.

The next day, as the Kamogawa begins to leave the pension, Ippo thanks Nekota for his stories. While driving away and talking about the training camp, they notice that Nekota and Hachi are following them on foot. They continue to give him their farewells until they believe Nekota is being too persistent and begins to throw things at him to get him to stop. As Nekota trips, he expresses his sadness to Hachi as he hasn't had busy days in a while, and hopes for the Kamogawa crew to not lose.

The Fourth Ranked Southpaw Named Shigeta Akira

Ippo vs Shigeta

Ippo fighting against Shigeta.

When the Kamogawa crew returns to the gym and Kamogawa begins to dismiss the boxers, a coach from the New Japan Boxing Gym enters the gym. The coach asks Kamogawa for a sparring session for his boxer, named "Shigeta Akira", to go against Ippo to gain confidence before fighting Sendō. Ippo recognises Shigeta as a fourth ranked boxer and wants to gain any information he can against Sendō's next opponent. When the spar begins, Ippo quickly has trouble with his timing. Ippo then realises that Shigeta is a Southpaw as he is using his right to jab and his stance is mirrored. The spar then ends, with Ippo beaten up due to inexperience against Southpaws and Shigeta leaving the ring with confidence. Kamogawa notes that Ippo is at peak fatigue and that no matter who he sparred with it wouldn't turn out good, but to use the spar as an opportunity to check out his possible future opponent.

When Ippo returns home, Umezawa asks Ippo if it is true that Takamura knocked out a bear as it claims on the newspaper. Ippo then spots that it says that Nekota reported the incident. Ippo gets a phone call from Sendō, who asks Ippo if the news about Takamura knocking out a bear is true. Ippo warns him about Shigeta, causing Sendō to assume that he took Ippo down because he is a Southpaw. Sendō claims that he does not need a strategy against Shigeta as he does not care about him, but he has been training to fight against Ippo. He then offers to send Ippo tickets to see him fight Shigeta, however, he tells Ippo that he has to pay for them.

He Who Rules With His Left...

At the Makunouchi Fishing Boat, Umezawa notices that Ippo is chopping wood and asks if it is working. While Ippo claims he does not feel any different, Umezawa saw that Ippo had more volume on his back than usual. When Ippo goes to the gym, he finds Aoki and Kimura, who are annoyed about Takamura telling his story about how he knocked out a bear to a group of reporters. Kamogawa then kicks the reporters out and scolds Takamura. Fujii, however, stays in the gym and comments that he thought that Takamura would be nervous about his world title match. Everyone gets shocked at the news but Kamogawa, who wanted to keep it a secret for the time being. As the secret is out, Kamogawa explains to Takamura that the second ranked in the world in the junior middleweight class is scouting for an opponent to be an undercard for a world title card. While the opponent sees Takamura, who is ranked 16th in the world in the middleweight class and champion of a small country, as small fry, if Takamura wins he would take the second rank placement and the number one contender for the world title. With Takamura fired up and hitting the sandbag, Ippo soon follows, as he realises that the Kamogawa gym might get its first world champion.

Mari meeting the Kamogawa gym members for the first time

Mari meets Aoki and Kimura.

Fujii then introduces Aoki and Kimura to sports writer Iimura Mari. Aoki and Kimura are quickly irritated when she asks for the duo to act naturally and to not give her special treatment because of her gender. When asked about her favourite boxers, she names some legendary boxers and notes that she watches boxing in Vegas and Mexico as she is not interested in Japan due to her beliefs that Japanese champions match up to 4 or 6-rounders. Despite not being interested in Japanese boxing, she admits that Takamura is an exception. She then recognises Ippo next to Takamura, who she predicts that he is growing and may turn into something, believing to have found something interesting. When Fujii and Mari leaves the gym, Aoki and Kimura are shocked that a woman came into the gym and Takamura ignored her, deducing that it is about the world title announcement.

Takamura's bear entrance

Takamura enters the ring in a bear costume.

Later while Ippo, Takamura, Aoki, and Kimura are doing roadwork, Aoki and Kimura hopes for knockouts for their matches. Takamura claims that when his match begins, everyone will forget about everything that happened, and plans to prove that he is the greatest in Japan and then talk to the world stage. When the day of the matches arrive, Ippo goes to the Kōrakuen Hall. Outside, he gets jumped by Hachi. Ippo then notices Nekota, who is arguing with an employee, trying to get Hachi into the hall despite rules not allowing dogs. Seeing no way to bring Hachi in, Nekota ties Hachi to a post outside the hall. As Ippo and Nekota heads to the changing room, Ippo notices Nekota carrying a huge bag, which Nekota claims that Takamura requested it. When the semifinals arrives, Kimura wins against Nefuma Ozca and then Aoki wins against Boy Allade, with the results of their training camp showing. At the seats, Mari introduces herself to Ippo, who she claims to be interested in. Kumi sees Ippo talking to Mari from a distance, getting jealous. With the challenger Itō Takaaki ready in the ring and thinking that the story of Takamura knocking out a bear is untrue, champion Takamura walks to the ring in an unique entrance wearing a bear costume, shocking the hall. When Takamura takes off the costume, everyone witnesses him having a bear claw mark on his chest. Kamogawa expresses that he did not want to go through with the bear costume but did it because Yagi recommended it. However, Yagi claims to have recommended it because Takamura told him that it was Kamogawa's idea. Before Kamogawa could scold Takamura, the announcer calls for seconds out.

Takamura defeats Itō

Takamura defeating Itō.

When the match begins, Takamura and Itō attempt to control the pace by using their lefts, dodging each other's punches while moving around in the ring. Takamura begins landing lefts, however the audience is disapproving of Takamura's textbook boxing and not throwing a right. With the left jabs starting to turn into left straights, Ippo realises that Takamura is trying to win using just his left. As the audience continues to complain about Takamura not using his right, Takamura's barrage of lefts crumbles Itō, eventually going down on his knees. The referee signals the end of the match, with Takamura winning the match using just his left and defending his title for the fourth time. Nekota informs Ippo that Takamura went by an old proverb of "he who rules the left, rules the world." When Takamura admits to Kamogawa that the bear skin costume was a bit much, he offers him to lecture him. Kamogawa, however, can not lecture him due to his incredible performance and is ready to accept a request for a world contender match for him when asked. After leaving the hall, the Kamogawa crew and Nekota celebrates the victories at the Sugar Ray, with Takamura and Nekota doing karaoke.

Nekota the Trainer

Mari getting Ippo's autograph

Mari receiving Ippo's autograph.

With Kamogawa and Nekota passed out from drinking until morning, Takamura, Aoki, and Kimura gone, Ippo becomes a centre of attention with the gym members. When Ippo leaves the gym, he meets Tomiko and Kumi who came to the gym to throw a secondary party due to being unable to go to the party at the Sugar Ray. Tomiko then leaves Kumi with Ippo when she learns that Aoki has not come to the gym. Kumi then goes with Ippo as he does his roadwork. While taking a break, Kumi makes a promise to Ippo to be the first female to get an autograph from him. On the way back to the gym, Kumi asks why Ippo started boxing. Seeing Ippo unable to answer, she assumes it is because he likes it. They then split ways so that Kumi can buy a paper and pen for Ippo to sign his autograph. At the gym, Ippo meets Mari, who wanted to see Ippo spar, but when she finds out Ippo can not spar, she decides to ask him questions. When asked what match left the biggest impression to him, Ippo answers that it was his match against Date Eiji, shocking the reporter. Ippo is then pressured into signing his autograph for Mari. Kumi sees this through the window and leaves a "baka" sign outside, which Ippo soon finds, not knowing who put it there.

Nekota teaching Kamogawa gym members

Nekota training Kamogawa gym members.

When Aoki, Kimura, and Takaura returns to the gym, they notice that Nekota is still in the gym. When Aoki and Kimura wants to do mitt training, they note how Shinoda is away from the gym. Nekota then offers to do mitt training, but they underestimate him due to his old age. When Kimura attempts to mitt train with Nekota, the gym embers become surprised when he was able to keep up with Kimura and make him tired. Kamogawa is impressed with Nekota, wanting to let him stay longer to help with the large amount of new recruits. Ten days later, Ippo does roadwork with Takamura and learns that Takamura is starting weight control to go down to the junior middleweight class as it is hard enough for him to stay in the middleweights. Ippo then goes to the tree where he started boxing, where it has been three years since asking Takamura what it felt like to be strong realising that he still does not know the answer, knowing that he will find out someday. 14 days in, Nekota has become popular with the students, with Ippo informing Kamogawa that Nekota has been doing review meetings after each training session. Kamogawa attempts to do review meetings, but no one comes and regular members have been getting distanced from him, feeling like he is getting displaced in his own gym.

When Nekota was telling a sensitive story about Kamogawa to the students in a review meeting, Kamogawa stops him, scolding him for putting him down to get what he wants. Nekota asks for mercy as he is jealous of Kamogawa due to him living surrounded by young people who look up to him while Nekota is ageing alone in the mountains. As Kamogawa feels bad for what he said and offers for him to stay as long as he wants, an express delivery driver from the Rabbit Courier enters the gym to pick up Nekota, as Nekota requested. Nekota gives his farewells to the Kamogawa gym to go back to the Pension Yoshio, wishing for Ippo to get the title. Ippo then opens an envelope with tickets to Sendō's title defence against Shigeta as summer ends and fall comes.

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