Ryūhei Sawamura (沢村 竜平, Sawamura Ryūhei) is a semi-recurring character in Hajime no Ippo.
He is a former featherweight and junior lightweight professional boxer. As a junior lightweight, he became the short-reigned JBC junior lightweight champion before retiring from boxing due to a motorcycle accident he had after the title match.
His main boxing matches in the series were against Makunouchi Ippo in the Rising Saga, as the 5th and strongest challenger Ippo ever faced and about a year later with the title match against Mashiba Ryō.
His surname is Sawamura. In Japan, surnames are listed before given names.
As a child, his stepfather was an alcoholic who would regularly physically and mentally abuse Sawamura and his mother. Eventually, Sawamura stabbed his stepfather with a knife in order to protect his mother. Soon afterwards, while eating with his mother, Sawamura ominously commented on the meat he was eating, noting that it was tough on the outside and more tender on the inside. Deeply unnerved by this, his mother placed him in the care of the state while telling him she was looking for a job, when in reality, he was being abandoned by his own mother. He took three years to realise she had left him. The memory of Sawamura's last meal with his mother left an incredible impact on his life, causing him to develop somewhat of an obsession with meat.
His isolation and bitterness was only amplified when he was falsely condemned for killing doves that he had fed alongside Kawabe, who was his teacher from middle school and one of his only friends. Later, Sawamura was to blame for beating many of Sendō Takeshi's fellow delinquents while they were in Nagoya. Because of that, Sawamura was approached by Sendō and his gang, prompting a fight between the two until Kawabe begged Sendō to stop. After Sendō and Kawabe talked, Sawamura and Sendō eventually became acquaintances.
A few years later, his teacher introduced him to boxing, sending him to a friend of his, who was the coach of the Nagoya Oniyaritome Boxing Gym. Sawamura became by time a natural violent professional boxer with a tendency to foul when there was reason. He also became a construction worker. He preferred it over any other job because of the heights he saw, comparing the heights he would see to when he would become the national champion one day.
When Sawamura partook in the West Japan Rookie King Tournament and won in the first round, Sawamura faced against Shimabukuro Iwao in the second round. Sawamura toyed Shimabukuro around for four rounds. Sawamura won by decision after the four rounds. Sawamura lost the All Japan Rookie King Tournament by disqualification, making him suspended from boxing for a year.
After Sawamura's one year suspension, Sawamura rose up in the JBC rankings, becoming ranked third. When Sendō was training for his come-back match after losing to Makunouchi Ippo, Sawamura was his sparring partner. Sawamura criticised Sendō's win in the come-back match at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. Ippo entered Sendō's changing room and attempted to greet and shake hands with Sawamura, however, Sawamura felt no need to be friendly with the champion. Sawamura warned Ippo before walking away to not use the Dempsey Roll when they fight, as he viewed it as a clumsy technique that will fall apart.
After Sawamura beat on a group of people on the street for simply "bothering" him, he went to his gym, where coach Karil was worried about Sawamura's teeth marks on his fist, asking what happened. Sawamura only asked if Karil sent his challenge request to the Kamogawa gym, which he did. When the Kamogawa gym accepted the challenge, Sawamura told Kawabe and thanked him for introducing him to the sport that let him beat eleven fighters while being praised for it. He also expressed his satisfaction of hitting his opponents with counters and wondered what the champion will taste like. Later, Sawamura began his training to counter the Dempsey Roll by having a junior welterweight come toward him while he faced away, then looking at the boxer just as he is about to attack, countering him. Dissatisfied with the junior welterweight's speed, Sawamura kicked him while he was down and asked Karil to bring him some "higher grade meat" that are fast.
Three days later of not having a sparring partner due to Sawamura's poor reputation around local gyms, Sendō entered the gym and offered to be a sparring partner. Sawamura declined, however, as he believed he would give Ippo details due to their relationship, so they go outside to talk instead. After Sawamura explained how he would counter the Dempsey Roll, Sawamura and Sendō reminisced their past when they first met as high school students. Sawamura wanted to fight Sendō afterwards, but Sendō declined the offer since he doesn't get into fighting outside the ring. Later, Sawamura asked Karil to do mitt-practise while being out of breath, as he wanted to raise his stamina. When his gym hosted a public spar, Sawamura sparred against sparring partners while being easily agitated due to the weight management having a bad effect on him. Later, while Sawamura was on his way to give Kawabe a ticket to his match against Ippo, he ran into a group of people that wanted to attack Sawamura. Sawamura defeated the group and was about to kill one of them before Kawabe arrived and stopped him. Sawamura gave Kawabe the ticket and thanked him for stopping him.
On the day of the weigh-in, Sawamura went to the Kōrakuen Hall and was wanting to fight Ippo as he couldn't hold back his hunger, but was held back by Karil. Sawamura laughed at Ippo's words of fighting fair and square in the ring with rules, viewing Ippo as delicious meat. After the weigh-in, Sawamura watched from a distance as Kawabe pleaded to Ippo for him to take Sawamura down, making Sawamura feel betrayed by the only person in the world on his side. When he returned to his motorcycle, he noticed a woman near it, prompting him to hit her with a closed fist, which caused a mark to appear on her face. Her brother, Mashiba Ryō threw a punch which Sawamura dodges, and the two almost got into a fight until Ippo got in between them, insisting that they will fight in the ring the next day. Sawamura left after mentioning to Ippo that in the ring, there will be no one to help him and nowhere to run from him.
The next day, Sawamura went to the Kōrakuen Hall and took a nap before his match with Ippo, dreaming about the time he ate steak with his mother, remembering how good the steak was, wanting to taste it again by eating Ippo's meat. When their match arrived, Sawamura and Ippo got into the ring, and, after Sawamura lunged at Ippo to try to start before the gong could ring, the match began. Sawamura was forced to the ropes after only being able to block punches. When Ippo broke Sawamura's guard, Sawamura tripped Ippo, making him fall, and threw a punch at the downed Ippo, nicking his face and earning him a point deduction. When Ippo got up, Sawamura blocked his attacks and tried to counter, however, he was hit with a liver blow at the corner. Unable to get out of the corner, Sawamura clinched, but he was still hit, making him let go. Sawamura attempted to hit Ippo to no avail until the first round ends. Although Karil warned him about the fouls, Sawamura planned to give Ippo as many points as he wants, as he will beat him.
In the second round, Sawamura held out his hand as a greeting, but when Ippo held his out, Sawamura knocked it away and threw a punch, which Ippo dodged. Just as Sawamura began to read Ippo's hand speed, Ippo upped his step-in speed and sends Sawamura down with a right to the face. When Sawamura got up, he was taken to the ropes by hits to his body and guard. Sawamura clinched and made Ippo fall down with him. When they both got up, because Sawamura purposely loosened his glove tape, the referee paused the match to let Karil fix it. When the match continued, Sawamura entered an unorthodox stance in order to use his Bullets. Sawamura proceeded to use his Bullets to keep Ippo away until the second round ends.
In the third round, Sawamura's Bullets were getting blocked by Ippo's Cross-Arm Block as he approached. When Ippo got close enough to attack, Sawamura hit him with his right Flash, which almost caused Ippo to fall. Sawamura hit him with another Flash after hitting him with multiple Bullets. The damage of the second Flash left Ippo leaning on Sawamura as the third round ended. At the corner, Karil advised him to take his time, which Sawamura agreed, as he noted that Ippo needed more time to tenderise.
In the fourth round, Sawamura's Bullets and Flash were dodged, and Sawamura was hit with a liver blow. Sawamura countered Ippo's followup punch with a Flash, letting him create distance to use his Bullets again. Sawamura eventually was taken to the ropes and was waiting for the moment for Ippo to use the Dempsey Roll. When Ippo motioned the Dempsey Roll, Sawamura used the ropes and leaned back, and as Ippo was sending a punch out with the Dempsey Roll, Sawamura countered the punch. As Ippo was in shock that his technique was defeated, Sawamura caught him as he missed his punch, with the fourth round ending soon thereafter. As Sawamura felt that Ippo was finally tender, he decided to was time to eat him.
In the fifth round, Sawamura brutally beat Ippo throughout the round while Ippo was unable to land a single hit. In the sixth round, Sawamura countered Ippo's Dempsey Roll with a Flash, however, Ippo stayed standing. As Ippo continued to fight back, Sawamura elbowed his back, causing the referee to give Sawamura a penalty. When Ippo motioned another Dempsey Roll, Sawamura got ready to counter it again. However, Ippo stopped his Dempsey Roll in mid-motion, making Sawamura's counter get thrown without hitting anything and Sawamura was hit with a counter from the Dempsey Roll, causing Sawamura to go down. When Sawamura got up, he was attacked until Sawamura hid behind the referee as the sixth round ended. At the corner, Kawabe arrived and tried to encourage Sawamura. However, Sawamura, feeling betrayed that Kawabe pleaded for his defeat to Ippo, spat on Kawabe, knowing that he only has himself to believe in.
In the seventh round, Sawamura was repeatedly attacked and unable to foul and trip Ippo as he dodged Sawamura's foot. As Ippo's Dempsey Roll was motioned, Sawamura attempted to counter it but Ippo stopped the motion. Sawamura stopped his motion to counter as well, as Ippo continued his motion. Sawamura's counter was dodged and, after Ippo stopped his Dempsey Roll's motion again, Sawamura became confused and was countered after throwing his counter. Sawamura was hit repeatedly with the Dempsey Roll until he went down. The referee ended the match immediately and Sawamura was taken to the hospital. While at the hospital, he was visited by Sendō, who told him how Ippo's fists are like a blade of life that brings out the best in people, feeling as if one trained more, they wouldn't have lost. Sendō revealed how Kawabe came out of the same institution as him, which is why Kawabe can't leave him alone. Sawamura requested for Sendō to tell Kawabe that he wants to eat a grade A steak with him once he leaves the hospital.
While working as a construction worker, Sawamura spotted Takamura, who was on a trip around Japan, and wondered why the world champion would be around the area.
After his loss against Ippo, he begins to realise the value of hard work, and sets Ippo as his goal, wanting to experience the same heights as Ippo. Mashiba challenges him to a title match because Sawamura had attacked his sister prior to the Ippo match. The bout begins and although both boxers appear to be equally matched, a series of fouls from Sawamura eventually turns the tides of the fight in his favour, and Mashiba eventually gets knocked down twice. Unimpressed by Mashiba's performance after the second knockdown, Sawamura brutally kicks a downed Mashiba in the head, much to the outrage from Toho and fans alike.
After Mashiba realises this revelation, the match turns into an all-out street fight, and Mashiba eventually manages to headbutt Sawamura in the eye, putting him at an extreme disadvantage by partly obstructing his vision. With Sawamura's injury, Mashiba manages to bring the fight back into equal grounds. After a brutal mudfight between the two, Sawamura eventually manages to down Mashiba again, but the latter musters up the strength to continue fighting. Before the referee signals to begin the fight, Mashiba sucker punches Sawamura and proceeds to brutalise him, leaving him in a bloody mess and causing him to free fall out of the ring. Mashiba is subsequently disqualified and Sawamura is declared the new champion.
After he wins his fight against Mashiba, he refused to accept the belt, and instead rode away without his trainer's agreement, on his motorcycle. However, due to the massive head damage he suffered during the fight, he accidentally rides straight into oncoming traffic. His injuries became irrecoverable and had to retire from active service as a professional boxer forever.
A large scar on the face is left behind in the aftereffect of a traffic accident, bolts and wires embedded by surgery have not been removed yet. He continued driving the motorcycle even after the accident and he continued being a construction worker and now a trainer.
Sawamura's sociopaths rants and behaviour are shown to have subsided. He sports a series of facial scars, as well as a calmer personality and a keen eye for boxing. He helped as a guide to Sendō who visited Nagoya on a journey of dojo, and also went to watch the OPBF Unification match with Sendō. He even reunited with Ippo, the first champion he faced in Itagaki's match and even enjoyed a long conversation with Ippo and Sendō during Miyata Ichirō's match against Randy Boy Jr. and seems to have a sense of humor, albeit a sarcastic one. He also holds Miyata's father in high regard, calling him a genius second in the fight against Randy Boy Junior, in which he never praised someone like that before.
|14||WIN||11-3-0||1996-4-19||Mashiba Ryō||Tokyo, Japan||8(10), 1:35||DQ||
|13||WIN||10-3-0||1996||Unknown||Tokyo, Japan||2(10)||KO||Won 4th rank place in the JBC Junior Lightweight ranking.|
|12||LOSS||9-3-0||1995-06-15||Makunouchi Ippo||Tokyo, Japan||8(10), 1:35||TKO||
|Unknown||Tokyo, Japan||?(6)||DQ||All Japan Rookie King Tournament|
Loss by Disqualification
Suspended for a year.
|9||WIN||8-1-0||1993||Shimabukuro Iwao||Osaka, Japan||4(4), 3:00||Decision||West Japan Rookie King Tournament|
Round 2 - Finals
|8||WIN||7-1-0||1993||Unknown||Osaka, Japan||?(4)||N/A||West Japan Rookie King Tournament|
|7||LOSS||6-1-0||1992||Unknown||Osaka, Japan||?(4)||DQ||Loss by Disqualification.|
Suspended for a year.
|1||WIN||1-0-0||199X||Unknown||Japan||?(4)||N/A||Pro Debut Match|
Sawamura carries a menacing appearance. He is tall for a featherweight, with a lean but toned build and spiky, unkempt black hair. His eyebrows are thin and slanted upward at the outsides, with eyes almost always half-closed in a look that can be interpreted as boredom or distaste. His eye colour is sometimes light brown, sometimes reddish. His nose points straight down rather than curving outward.
After Sawamura's match against Mashiba Ryō, he has visible scars on each side of his face from his motorcycle accident.
Much like Mashiba Ryō, Sawamura is a dark, brooding boxer with a devastating fighting style and a tendency to foul. However, unlike Mashiba's openly aggressive personality, Sawamura possesses the attitude of a cold, calculating and oftentimes unstable killer. Also unlike Mashiba, who usually fouls in desperation, Sawamura will often commit illegal moves simply out of pure malice, even when he has the upper hand in a fight.
He is shown to be highly cruel and antagonistic, has openly expressed his bloodlust and desire to kill numerous times, and has a fixation on meat and the 'taste' of his opponents, all of these traits stemming from a harsh childhood. Before and during his match with Makunouchi Ippo, he even goes into somewhat cannibalistic rants, desiring to tenderise Ippo so he could relive a childhood memory with his mother, and fantasising about his taste. However, his obsession with meat and tendency to liken boxing to cannibalism seemed to fade after this match.
Following the revelation from Sendō that Kawabe was bought up in similar harsh environments, he becomes somewhat humble and his vicious tendencies begin to lessen, developing a liking for hard work and a drive to be on the same level as Ippo. However, his cruelty has not completely faded away, and is shown again in his match against Mashiba, which turned out to be a match full of fouls and illegality. Post-retirement, however, he seems to have mellowed out. Though he remains cold and cynical, his more aggressive and vicious behaviour seems to have faded away.
First and foremost Sawamura was a gifted counter-puncher, his sense for counter-punching is even greater than Miyata's, as he has a very good eyesight. It was said that his counters may even surpass that of Miyata's in all of Japan and Takamura recognised his ability as a "undoubtedly a natural talent"; he later went on to say that his instincts for counter-punching actually surpassed that of Miyata's.
The difference between Sawamura and Miyata's counter-punching is that Sawamura hits his opponent before or after they have thrown a punch, purely to punish them, rather than during their punch, which Miyata does to use the opponent's momentum against them. As a result, Sawamura's counters have been called "dark/evil" while Miyata's are considered "light/good". Sawamura has fast and heavy jabs which are nicknamed the bullet and his most powerful shot is a Right Straight nicknamed the flash. Because of his rough childhood, Sawamura is rugged and is not above committing fouls, despite his great strength and sense for boxing.
More of a hindrance than anything else is the fact that Sawamura has a tendency to commit fouls due to his sadistic personality. In fact, his tendency to foul cost him his boxing career, as Mashiba brutalised him in retort to this behaviour. Also because of his blood-lust, he will actually not go for a knock out punch until he feels like it which, while still a positive in terms of points, still means that the opponent has a chance to come back, as was the case when fighting Ippo.
Main Article: Sawamura Ryūhei/Gallery
- The kanji for Ryū (龍) in his name means "Dragon", creating his nickname the Owari Dragon (尾張の竜, Owari no Ryū).
- His boxing stance strongly resembles a Muay Thai stance. This may not be a coincidence, as it is shown that Sawamura knows other forms of martial arts when he street brawls with a teenage Sendō. His tendency to hit his opponents illegally with his knee is also good evidence of this, as the knee strike is one of the 8 fundamental techniques in Muay Thai.
- After Sawamura lost to Ippo in the JBC featherweight title match, it only took him only 10 months to heal from his injures received (listed in chapter 502), "3 broken ribs, 4 lost teeth, and a fracture in his left eye that requires immediate surgery and extend hospital stay..." before his next JBC title match to Mashiba as a junior lightweight.
- The origin of his surname and his Bullet technique were taken from the real life fishing shop "Karil" which fishermen Sawamura Yukihiro and Sakamura Jim had, while Flash was a different brand soft lure that was popular around the time of the debut chapter's release.