Masahiko Umezawa (梅沢正彦, Umezawa Masahiko) is a recurring character in Hajime no Ippo.
After a day of school, Umezawa, along with his friends, Takemura and Matsuda catch up to fellow student, Makunouchi Ippo, and began insulting and beating him underneath a bridge. Trying to provoke a reaction from the submissive high-schooler, they are stopped by a jogging Takamura Mamoru, who scared them away by dodging their punches and stealing the buttons off their school uniforms with his impressive footwork.
Then one day, as Ippo was going to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym, Umezawa and his friends messed with Ippo, taking his boxing licence. Umezawa was surprised as Ippo defended himself and took his boxing licence back from him. After Ippo's match with Oda Yūsuke, Umezawa and his friends approached Ippo and asked how he won. Umezawa then asked about Ippo's next match. The group then ran away, originally wanting to apologise for picking on him.
On the day of Ippo's match against Fujiwara Yoshio, Umezawa and his friends watched as Ippo won the match, with Umezawa coming to the conclusion that Ippo is strong. The next day, Umezawa forced Ippo to meet his gang, calling Ippo his friend as he introduced him.
Umezawa watched Ippo's match against Jason Ozuma.
After Ippo's match against Mashiba Ryō, Umezawa and his gang congratulated him. They then became disappointed when they hear that he was withdrawing from the All Japan Rookie King Tournament because his right hand was broken.
Eventually, Ippo got his right hand drugged in order to fight Sendō Takeshi. Umezawa and his gang attended Ippo's match against Sendō in Osaka, where they were greatly outnumbered by the home crowd's cheers.
On graduation day, Umezawa forced Ippo to take pictures with the gang and several other students to keep memories of their friendship. On the way home, they come across the bridge where Umezawa used to beat Ippo. Umezawa tried again to apologise to Ippo but before he could, Ippo innocently assumed he was trying to ask when the next match will be. Umezawa realised that Ippo views him as a friend, and decided to let the past go. When Ippo and Okita Keigo had a match scheduled, Umezawa arrived to the Kōrakuen Hall to watch the match. When he cheered for Ippo that fifth place was stupid, Aoki Masaru, who was in fifth place, threw a plastic cup at him.
After school, he found employment as a salary man but soon quit his job in order to be a mangaka and write a boxing manga about Ippo. He later learned that Ippo could not continue to box because his mother was hospitalised, ultimately forcing him into an early retirement. Knowing that he would not be able to write the manga if Ippo retired soon, he asked to work at the Makunouchi Fishing Boat. After the first day he almost reluctantly quit on Ippo, but after he saw Ippo practising his jabs, he decided to go through with it for his friend (he would later be thanked personally by Kamogawa Genji for this). Before Ippo's match against Saeki Takuma, he received a pair of boxing trunks that was designed by Umezawa, who told him not to fall, as it would be bad advertising. Umezawa then gave Ippo a new pair of boxing shoes. Before the match against Saeki begins, Umezawa visited Ippo's room and attempted to take a photo of him, however the camera roll flies out. After watching the match against Saeki, Umezawa attempted to take a photo again, however the camera roll flew out again.
While he and Ippo load ice boxes to the boat, Umezawa told Ippo that he could load the boxes by himself since it was the day of Date Eiji's title defence.
After Ippo's match against Alexander Volg Zangief, Ippo passed out for three days, with Hiroko worried, Umezawa promised himself to work hard at the fishing boat to make Hiroko not worry about it. After watching a tape of a preview of the Champion Carnival that showed Ippo's and Date's interview, Umezawa realised how stressful it must be at the gym during a title match and told Ippo that he and the fishing boat customers are pulling for him. When Ippo's match against the champion Date arrived, Umezawa brought Ippo's teacher to watch the match. Umezawa then watched and cheered for Ippo. However, he became saddened when Ippo lost.
The morning after Ippo lost to Date, Umezawa went to Ippo's room to turn off the alarm. When Ippo woke up, Umezawa accidentally mentioned how the match just ended, which made Ippo remember he lost and apologised that he lost despite Umezawa and the other's cheering. When Ippo's match was scheduled to be against Ponchai Chuwatana, he told Umezawa that he was getting back to the ring and was the main event. When Kamogawa collapsed and was sent to the hospital due to overwork, Umezawa helped Ippo train by being in a motorcycle for Ippo to push. The day before Ippo's match, Umezawa saw Ippo's training and noticed Ippo's movement looked different. Umezawa attended Ippo's match against Ponchai. and, when Ippo used the Dempsey Roll, Fujii Minoru explained the technique to Umezawa.
The morning after Ippo's match against Ponchai, Umezawa showed Ippo all the boxing magazines he bought as he was excited about his comeback and noted how Sendō's mic performance that was signalling a possible fight with Ippo was more publicised than Ippo's victory. Umezawa commented how Ippo's face was also not beaten up as bad as previous matches thanks to the Dempsey Roll.
When Ippo came back from his trip to the mountains, as thanks for staying to help with the boat, Umezawa received a bell from Ippo as a souvenir from the mountain trip. Umezawa was confused about the bell, however he learned from Ippo that the bell is used at the mountains to keep bears away. Umezawa then showed Ippo an article asking if it was true that Takamura killed a bear as it said in the article. The next day, Umezawa heard Ippo, who was chopping wood outside. After finding out he was chopping wood for training, Umezawa asked if Ippo thinks it is working. Ippo felt no different, however Umezawa noticed Ippo's back having more volume.
While Ippo was spaced out in his room, Umezawa hoped for something to lighten his mood. When Hiroko gave Ippo the phone when Mashiba Kumi called, Umezawa and Hiroko eavesdropped on the conversation. After Ippo got off the phone, Umezawa gave Ippo a book of locations for a date. When Ippo came home with tickets for his match against Sendō, Umezawa told him that he would be able to cheer better than his previous match against Sendō in Osaka since this one is in Tokyo. Umezawa later watched and cheered with Nekota Ginpachi for Ippo during his match against Sendō, where Ippo won and became the JBC featherweight champion. Later, when Ippo woke up, Umezawa showed him magazines about his fight. He then informed Ippo that Aoki wanted him to call him when he woke up for a celebration party.
A day before Ippo's first title defence match against Sanada Kazuki, Umezawa and Hiroko gifted Ippo new red boxing shoes and trunks, with the trunks having twelve stars signalling the twelve knockouts Ippo achieved. The next day, before Ippo left for his match, he told Umezawa that he would win by knockout. Umezawa became excited as Ippo was in high spirits, however, Hiroko believed that the way Ippo said he would win by knockout, lead her to believe that he may lose, confusing Umezawa. Later, Umezawa watched Ippo's title defence against Sanada, which resulted in Ippo's victory. After the match, Umezawa tasked himself in declining requests from interviewers wanting to talk to Ippo, wanting to let Ippo rest as he was worried about his health.
When Date was to fight the WBA featherweight champion Ricardo Martinez, Ippo was chosen as Ricardo's sparring partner. Umezawa, after learning about Ricardo's record before Ippo went to spar with him, told Ippo that Ricardo is only five times stronger due to his win record being 62 and Ippo's being 13. Umezawa explained it as if Ippo was fighting five of himself, where he would be able to land one out of five punches. Umezawa then wished for Ippo to show the world's greatest what he can do.
Before leaving, he asked Ippo what he should tell people when asked how they know each other, but left before he could get an answer. Ippo used the fishing boat to chase after him and tell him that they know each other as "classmates, acquaintances, co-workers... but most importantly best friends", resulting in a tearful yet joyful goodbye.
Not long before Itagaki Manabu's Rookie King match against Imai Kyōsuke, Ippo and Itagaki learned that Umezawa had gotten a job as an assistant to a professional manga artist and decided to pay him a visit. It was revealed that his one-shot debut manga, Ma Ippo Get You!, had won the Rookie Manga Award. Umezawa currently lives in a one-room apartment and has grown his hair out longer and has a small mustache. However, he still cheers on Ippo and attended Itagaki's Rookie King match.
Since then, Umezawa has cleaned up his appearance, retaining a minor goatee and trimming his hair. He's been working as an assistant to the artist who does the weekly comic "The Town You're In," a Slice of Life romantic comedy made for kids, spin-off of "A Town Where You Live". Umezawa still keeps up with Boxing Fan and was upset about Ippo being mocked by Kojima Hisato.
In Umezawa's apartment, Ippo was helping Umezawa with his manga, where he completed 15 pages. Umezawa was surprised that the "Hero of Kōrakuen Hall" is working in a place like this as a manga assistant. After he checked Ippo's work, he asked Ippo if he was wearing weights while doing it.
Ippo mentioned that he keeps wearing them out of habit, he was worried if it made the drawings bad. But Umezawa said they are perfect, and he surprised at it. It was the kind of work chief assistants would put out. Ippo was happy and wanted to learn how to do backgrounds next.
Umezawa doesn't think it was right if Ippo was able to do this kind of work, where his hands aren't shaking like before. Ippo wondered if he can be a real manga Pro assistant, but Umezama questioned if Ippo can go back to being a Pro Boxer instead. However, Ippo's already made up his mind about retiring.
It's been over two months since Ippo was last at the gym, and he hasn't even seen the others either. Umezawa asked about Itagaki, but Ippo tells him that Itagaki actually quit working on the fishing boat. With Ippo working full time, it coverd the lack of manpower that was there before while he was training. Itagaki was now working at his dad's security company, the position comes with full benefits. (His dad doesn't get full benefits.)
Ippo thought Itagaki quit in order to limit his exposure to boxing. With him around, he might start asking about it. So he told a little white lie when he left. Ippo believed that since everyone is worried so much about him, he feel kind of bad, which is why he need to really commit to getting used to life without boxing. As Ippo left, Umezawa thought everyone around him is probably having a hard to getting used to it too.
After Ippo tried to make Teru his boxing student, he took him to the gym so he can perhaps show some potential. Teru drew Taihei as Ippo told him to, to punch the sandbag. Teru having no talent whatsoever in boxing, to everyone's surprise he had extremely good drawing skills for someone that young. Ippo then takes Teru to Umezawa's place, and by seeing and analyzing his drawing, he states that Teru is a genius. Teru was overjoyed to see Umezawa's manga drafts and asked to study as he wanted to become a pro mangaka. Umezawa said that mangaka often keep getting outshined by their disciples. Ippo then remembered that he always wanted to know what it means to be strong through boxing, so Teru's reason for being strong was to be incredible at manga.
Ippo and Umezawa are shocked in amazement when they see Teru's drawings. Ippo compared the drawing that he did with a lot of practice, to Teru's drawing that he did in memory and notices Teru's drawing is better. Umezawa then suggested taking Teru to his sensei, Raikuma, as he is looking for assistants, but Teru disagrees as he wants to stay with Umezawa. Umezawa however, wants Teru to make money and be big in the industry, but Teru doesn't care about that as he only wants to study manga. Umezawa then asks about Teru's story, when he finds out that Teru was bullied and Ippo drove the bullies away, and Teru's feelings about bullying, Umezawa does a dogeza. Umezawa asks Ippo to forgive him, he then finds out Ippo also did a dogeza to drive away the bullies. Teru asks if it was difficult for Ippo to do that, he replies that his pride is not worth much and he will bow his head as much as he needs. Ippo asks Teru why he did not disappear like he wished to do, Teru wanted to die so the bullies would regret it, but knew that the bullies would not care or be affected and would just find someone else to replace him. Ippo then tells Teru that he is strong and because he is strong, something good came along as he met Umezawa. As it is getting late, Ippo leaves Umezawa's place as Teru gives his thanks to him.
- (About Ippo) "He's strong."
- In some ways, Umezawa can be viewed as Morikawa Jouji's avatar character, the other being Yagi Haruhiko.