Hajime no Ippo

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"I want to be reborn ... Takamura-san, how does it feel to be strong?"

Ippo Makunouchi is a shy high school boy. Having lost his father at an early age, he spends all his free time helping his mother run their fishing boat business. His introverted nature and his lack of any real friends attracts a group of bullies, who regularly beat him up.

During one of these beating-up sessions, Ippo meets Mamoru Takamura, a professional boxer, who rescues him and discovers his powerful punch. Ippo joins the Kamogawa Boxing Gym and begins his journey towards the Japanese featherweight title and the real meaning of strength.

The manga Hajime no Ippo, written by Jyoji Morikawa, has been running since 1989, spans more than 80 volumes and as of June 2020 is one of the longest manga series ever. From October 2000 to March 2002, a 76-episode anime adaptation, titled Hajime No Ippo: The Fighting Spirit ran on the Nippon TV Network. One TV movie, Champion Road, and an OVA, Kimura v. Mashiba, were aired soon after.

On January 6, 2009, the second season, titled Hajime No Ippo: The New Challenger, started airing on the Nippon TV Network and ran for 26 episodes.

Ippo, Takamura and friends appear in the Massive Multiplayer Crossover game, Sunday VS Magazine Shuuketsu Choujou Daikessen.

Tropes used in Hajime no Ippo include:
  • Accidental Athlete: Ippo, though he still trains very hard instead of relying on natural ability.
  • The Ace - Eiji Date is a somewhat more down to Earth version.
    • David "Golden" Eagle. 'Nuff said.
  • Achey Scars - The one Date has on his nose bridge, which comes from his disastrous fight against Ricardo Martínez
  • All-American Face - David Eagle
  • All of the Other Reindeer - At the beginning, Ippo is regularly bullied at school.
  • Animal Motifs - Many characters have animal themed attacks such as Ippo's gazelle punch, Aoki's frog punch and Kimura's dragon fish punch. Takamura even notices this and attempts to find one for himself. Some characters even get full Animal Motifs for themselves, Volg Zanghief(his name is Russian for wolf), Sendou the Naniwa Tiger (who has a very predatory and playful personality, often grins with very prominent canines, has fairly feline eyes and a love of cats) and recently Woli the Indonesian champion who spends his days playing with monkeys, is able to outdo them in acrobatics and imitate their body language enough to lead the troupe.
    • Every American boxer that Takamura has fought has an animal motif.
  • Anticlimax - Ippo vs Hisato. One of the most hyped up matches ends with a single punch.
    • Actually, one could argue that it wasn't an anti-climax since the entire build up was about Ippo's anger and the fighter's one punch that could do him in -- and we saw both.
  • Large Ham Announcer - HIDARIIIII! MIGIIII!
  • Art Evolution - Drawing a series for 10 year will naturally make the art change. The largest difference is body types. Before, Ippo, Kimura, Aoki, Miyata, and even Mashiba all had the exact same musclature, body, and facial structure, almost giving the series a case of Only Six Faces, the only noticable differences being hair and eyes. Now, Ippo's bigger than all of the in sheer muscle size(second to Takamura), Miyata has a much lighter looking frame, and Mashiba's long arms have the muscles spread out more on them than anyone else, making him look all the more elongated. The faces are also different, Ippos has a rounded face, and Mashiba has a very narrow, sunken face. Before, he just looked like he had a more prominent forehead and slightly sunken eyes. Takamura is more ovular, his hairstyle makes him look more ovular.
  • Artificial Riverbank
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign - The names of the American boxers were somewhat believable at first (Brian Hawk, David Eagle), but later in the manga we have names such as Ricky Mouse and Ronald Duck and then you start to wonder if Morikawa's been going to Disneyland a little too much.
    • The theme continues with Takamura's latest challenger, who's named Peter Rabbitson.
  • Badass Boast - "If you want to know about my power you can ask him after the match." Said by Ippo of all people after Hisato pushed a Berserk Button that he shouldn't have. Ironically, after said match, Hisato was hit so hard that he doesn't remember any of it.
  • Badass Grandpa - Coach Genji Kamogawa and his best friend, Ginpachi Nekota. Both are in their 70s and are retired, but still have impressive strength for their ages.

Tatsuya Kimura: (after seeing them exchange blows as a greeting) ... THAT is how old men fight? Wow!

  • Battle Aura - Fighters show a green glow in their eyes when extremely determined to win. This is often enough to revive them from otherwise guaranteed defeat.
  • Beach Episode - One episode featured not only humor, but also some degree of plot as the Kamogawa boxers went there not just to relax and have a good view of girl booty (which they still do), but to train. In fact, Ippo realizes one of his early flaws (lack of leg strength) there.
    • The beach episode in New Challenger involved Ippo confessing his love for Kumi(who was passed out) and Takamura groping Aoki's girlfriend Tomiko while they were making out on the beach. Takamura apologizes, by telling Aoki how nice Tomiko's breasts are.
  • Berserk Button - Never, ever, EVER, try to harm Mashiba's younger sister Kumi. Sawamura nicked Kumi with his fist before his match with Ippo. Mashiba, later on, gets to have a match with him himself, saying to him that being put in the Hospital by Ippo wasn't enough, he'll put him in the grave.
    • Never insult Coach Kamogawa in front of Ippo. Better yet, never insult the boxers he's won against.
  • Beware the Nice Ones - Oh yes, beware them!
  • Big Brother Mentor - Takamura, to Ippo. In a very, uhm, special way. Date is one of these towards Okita Keigo.
  • Bishonen - Miyata and Ryuichi Hayami seemed to be about as close as the art style would allow to one. Woli proved this wrong.
  • Blood Knight: Ryuuhei Sawamura.
    • Despite his ostensible motives, you could make a pretty good case for Ryo Mashiba. Especially in his earlier appearances, and later, when he undergoes a Vegeta-like development and rediscovers his old bloodlust.
    • Sendo Takeshi is the good guy version of this.
  • Bodyguard Crush - In coach Kamogawa's backstory, his and Nekota's friend and protegée Yuki-san was hinted to be in love with him.
  • Boring Invincible Hero - Ippo only lost ONE match, which was a title-match against veteran champion Date Eiji. And he got the belt on his next try, which is against Sendo. Of course, he always wins by KO. Several other characters have been forced to 'win by decision', but Ippo's 'Dynamite Punch' never fails to deliver the KO.
    • And lets not forget Ricardo Martinez, the boxer who trounced Date in the past, and present.(Though he admitted, had Dante been at his best, he would have lost. He even admitted he respected Date more than any other opponent he had faced.)
      • Ippo tried to spar against Ricardo in the Anime and couldn't even land a blow on him. Ricardo merely pounded away at Ippo with his left, breaking his guard every time. Even when Ippo did tank all those shots to get close enough, Ricardo punched him out of a Dempsey Roll with just his left.
    • Miyata is just as likely to fall under this as Ippo. His only official loss in Japan is to Mashiba and his draw in Thailand is due to his status as a foreigner. Later in the series, he consistently overcomes impossible odds.
    • Both Miyata and Ippo are shown in the second series to be far outclassed by World Level fighters, getting destroyed in sparring matches with Date and Martinez.
    • To be fair, it's been all but flat out stated that Ippo is just too simple to win by points, quite simply it is not possible for him to win by decision.
        • This is also justified by how boxing generally works, as brawlers like Ippo almost never win on points, which is why they're so weak against the outfighter.
      • Also applies to Takamura, who always seems to come out on top no matter what the situation, including winning an arm-wrestling match with Ippo and punching out a bear. Takamura avoids becoming a Marty Stu though because of his obnoxious temperament (and getting called on for it), his penchant for grabbing people in the shower, his bad luck with women and because we do see him suffer the most of all characters because of his inhumane weightloss diet and hard training.
        • Note, however: maybe the most, but not the most frequently. That's an entirely different trope and an entirely different character (see below).
    • Also justified by the nature of the sport in question. The best boxers on the world stage can sometimes only taste defeat 4 or 5 times in a career lasting upwards of 40-50 bouts. Ippo's only lost once, but he's had a lot of close calls.
  • Boxing Lesson - This is the entire basis of the early story. At first, Ippo becomes too busy with boxing to take notice of them. His training also made it easier for him to run away from them. The bullies even become his devoted fans later on, because they believe boxers are strong men.
  • Brick Joke - The cockroach in the sandwich.
  • Bully Hunter - Sendo Takeshi
  • Butt Monkey - Poor Masaru Aoki gets no respect. Takamura manipulates him and plays all kinds of pranks on him - grabbing his dick in the shower, shaving off his eyebrows, giving him a totally ridiculous haircut, making him eat a decades-old squid, making him sell overpriced Takamura statues, groping his girlfriend's breasts(and then telling him how nice they are in an attempt to apologize), and even shoving his privates into his face. To add insult to injury, his boxing style - labelled The Frog - is the least refined in the series. People actually pay to see him lose. His only consolation? His antics are considered comedic gold, he is the only main character with a girlfriend, and he is a huge fan favorite.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret - When any member of the Kamogawa gym knows one of Ippo's secrets, it doesn't stay a secret for long. Itagaki shows no qualms in giving details about Ippo and Kumi's dates to Mashiba either.
  • Can't Spit It Out - How many YEARS have Kumi and Ippo danced around admitting how they feel now? They're still acting like teenagers in their mid 20's
  • Casualty in the Ring - It is revealed that Randy Boy Junior's father passed away a few days after his world title match because he fought while keeping brain damage from his previous match against Miyata's father. He did not die in the ring per se, but the fights caused his death nonetheless.
  • Character Development - What makes this series so enjoyable, aside from the boxing action.
  • Cherry Tapping - Takamura during his last match before taking on the world, beating the #2 ranked Japanese middleweight with only his left hand. Someone in the crowd said "Only his left... good god." that pretty much summed it up.
  • Chick Magnet - Hayami, so much. And he has the Instant Fanclub to prove it! Also, Miyata to a degree.
  • Clueless Chick Magnet - This trope couldn't ask for a better poster boy than Ippo.
  • Combat Commentator - Aside from the ringside commentators during the fights, the Kamogawa Gym boxers usually keep a running conversation about the fight. Sometimes, former opponents provide commentary.
  • Cool Big Sis - Dr. Yamaguchi and Mari Iimura.
  • Cool Old Guy - Date kinda fulfills the role, despite being only in his late 20's/early 30's. Then again, he is younger than he looks.
  • Cross Counter - Well, of course.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass - Ippo is super-polite, socially awkward, self-effacing and easily intimidated by foes who seem stronger than he is. Do not let that facade fool you. Inside the ring, he morphs into an intense and unstoppable fighter with a Dynamite Punch that can shatter bones, and an invincible stamina that allows him to keep coming back no matter how many times he's knocked down. This has worked to his advantage several times, as some opponents who meet him outside the ring underestimate the level of brutality he can unleash inside of it.
    • When Ippo defends his title against Ryuhei Sawamura, a fighter with no compunction about cheating and deliberately hurting his opponents, he showed a rare righteously mad side.

Aoki: "Actually, I thought he was kind of a big wuss."
Kimura: "But I better not mess with him for a while . . ."

  • Cry for the Devil - Mashiba is a fearsome boxer in the ring, shown as someone who would do anything to win. He gains infamy by stepping on Ichiro Miyata's foot to win in one of his very first fights. When he becomes the Junior Lightweight champion, he is nicknamed The Executioner due to his mercilessness in the ring. There's also the fact that Mashiba practically raised his sister Kumi ever since their parents died in an accident, so only she and one of his bosses know how hard Mashiba has worked to take care of her. The scene where this softer side of his' was shown as quite the Tear Jerker in the anime.
    • In the manga, Sawamura is also depicted as merciless and uncaring. In fact, he and Mashiba later meet in one of the dirtiest fights in the manga. It is later revealed that he had a violent childhood and was rejected by almost everyone while growing up.
  • Curb Stomp Battle - A lot of matches.
  • Daisuke Namikawa - Manabu's seiyuu
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique - Ippo was not allowed to use the Dempsey Roll in one match because of its effects on his knees and legs. Kamogawa's Tekken Punch is also like this.
  • Defeat Means Friendship - Due to Ippo's gentle and forgiving nature, he ends up being, in the very least, cordial with most of his opponents. He becomes good friends with Volg and Sendo, although he would rather not face them again in the ring. He is polite to both Mashiba and Sawamura, arguably his most ermm ... misanthropic opponents, and both have a grudging respect for Ippo. Mashiba arguably gets better as time goes on, for the sake of Kumi, whom hangs around Ippo quite a bit.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable - WBA Featherweight Champion Ricardo Martinez is most definitely this.
  • Delinquents - Takamura, Kimura, Aoki, Sendo and Sawamura used to be school gangsters. Also, Umezawa and his flunkies.
  • Determinator - Almost every important character, including of course Ippo. Some of them so much that it's questionable if they aren't even more determined than Ippo. Special mention goes to Sendo in both matches, who kept pummeling Ippo, despite being unconscious, solely being moved by the cheers of his fans. And in the second fight, he still manages to stand up and look Ippo straight in the eyes despite enduring a combination of Liver Blow, Gazelle Punch and Dempsey Roll, even though he could not lift his arms anymore. But Miyata, Date and many others also display this. This determination is even visually shown by a green flame in their eyes.
    • The award for Determinator definitely has to go to Date. While Ippo fought with a broken fist, and Sendo fought with broken ribs, Date fought with his right fist shattered, his ribs all but gone, and his jaw nearly destroyed, not only that, but even with all of that he still nearly won against the man known as 'The only living Super Legend'!
  • Diabolus Ex Machina - Some bits of Date's backstory felt like this. Not only does he lose horribly against Ricardo Martínez, but his Ill Girl wife has a Convenient Miscarriage at the same time? Wow, Morikawa, you're cruel when you want to be.
  • Dissonant Serenity - Ippo pulls this off. It's a bit...unsettling.
  • Deuteragonist - Takamura Mamoru.
  • Drives Like Crazy - Inverted/subverted: after he gets his driving licence, Ippo drives awfully slowly, causing traffic jam behind him.
  • Easily-Distracted Referee - Seriously, how blatant must a foul be not to be overlooked, ignored or counted as an accident in this series? Sawamura is about the only one to be ever called out for his fouls, and that's only because he has the unfortunate habit of nearly killing his opponents. Then, subverted in the Sawamura vs Mashiba fight, where the referee does notice the fouls, but there are so many on both sides that the puny warnings and penalties he gives here and there don't lead anywhere. Again it takes a near murder for Mashiba to be disqualified.
  • Easily Forgiven - Ippo and former bully turned devoted fan, Umezawa Masahiko. To be fair, Umezawa is one of the best examples of Character Development in the series as a whole, and comes to genuinely care for Ippo and admire him.
    • Later in the manga it's shown that Umezawa is still tormented by his horrible treatment of Ippo earlier on. He tries to apologize to both Ippo and his mother, with Tear Jerker results.
  • Epunymous Title: "Hajime no Ippo" literally means "The First Step" (which is also the title of the first chapter), bit "Ippo" is also the central character's name.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: The bear (or better said, Mama Bear) from the mountains that terrifies everyone in the Nekota episodes.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning - Date's Corkscrew Blow.
  • Precious Puppies - Wanpo seems to have no other purpose in the manga than to give Ippo a cute and fluffy companion during his training. And a few extra Chick Magnet points maybe. And yet, in one character popularity poll Wanpo manages to be in the top 10!
  • Eviler Than Thou - Mashiba vs. Sawamura
  • Evil Foreigner - Surprisingly for a sports series dealing with international competition, mostly averted, Bryan Hawk being about the only real example. And he ends up on the losing side of an Eviler Than Thou to Takamura. Malcolm Gedoh possibly also counts but he almost reaches Loveable Rogue status due to Character Development, and definitely becomes Affably Evil. Completely Inverted with Volg Zanghief and David Eagle who are about the nicest characters in the series.
    • Mr Sekiguchi would count, but there's the fact that nobody knows what his nationality is - thanks to his last name, for all we know, he could be Japanese.
    • In the Kamogawa flashback, Anderson most definitely has this role. When Blood Knight meets World War II's anti-Japanese racism and contempt, complete with Phenotype Stereotype.
  • Evil Versus Evil - Mashiba vs. Sawamura
  • Expository Hairstyle Change - Umezawa stopped slicking his hair back after he graduated from highschool.
  • Face Doodling - Done in Jerkass (and hilarious) fashion by Takamura, Aoki and Kimura when they doodled on Ippo's penis while he was in a coma after a fight.
  • Foe Yay - Ippo and Miyata. Ippo looks up to Miyata and knows virtually all his fight records and details. Poor Kumi has never inspired such devotion. Lampshaded by Ippo's gymmates, who often joke that Ippo is "gay for Miyata."
    • The fact that Ippo never retorts anything when other characters talk about his "lover", his "boyfriend" or how he "fell for him" doesn't help either
    • Some Yaoi Fangirls also consider this applicable to Ippo and Volg, who become good friends outside the ring. When Volg had to go back to Russia after losing two fights in a row, Ippo rushes to the airport to see him before he leaves. Volg gives his boxing gloves to Ippo, while Ippo cries as Volg is walking away. Then, later on, they live together for a few days, while Ippo helps set him up for his comeback in America, and they act almost like life long friends with each other. It's so bad for Volg he knows he has to leave soon or he'll never want to leave.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble - The four main boxers count, with Ippo being Supine, Takamura being both Choleric and Sanguine, Aoki being Melancholic and Kimura being Phlegmatic.
  • Fragile Speedster - Miyata's Fatal Flaw. Slightly subverted because he has the stamina to withstand taking hits, but the problem is that his blows aren't strong enough. It doesn't help that he, just like his dad, has the "glass jaw" problem.
  • Gag Penis - Ippo is constantly ridiculed by Takamura, Aoki and Kimura (out of their own insecurity) at the enormous size and girth of his member. They grab it more than once and even scribbled on it while Ippo was recuperating!
    • The fact that Takamura is a lightweight in his pants compared to him doesn't help much either.
    • Takamura also grabs Sendo's member in the shower, after mistaking him for Aoki. He realizes his mistake because Sendo was equally formidable in size.
    • Don't Forget the "Big Rocket" during the first beach training
      • Also Takamura's idea for Ippo's title early on
  • Game-Breaking Injury - In Ippo's match against Takuma Saeki, Saeki's jabs cause Ippo's eye to swell, making him unable to see out of it. Saeki used this new blind spot as a way to deliver surprise attacks.
    • In a rare case where the hero cripples the rival, Ippo breaks opponent Ryo Mashiba's arm during a match. Mashiba used his elbow to block Ippo's powerful liver blow and to crush Ippo's fist. However, because of Ippo's destructive power, Mashiba ends up injuring his elbow instead. Ippo also breaks his fist but wins the match.
    • Also, Hayami gets one of these thanks to Kobashi, which it's stated to be the reason why he has to retire early.
  • Genki Girl - Nurse Tomiko, Nanako Itagaki from the manga.
  • Gentle Giant - Jason Ozma looks like a huge Scary Black Man, but surprises Ippo with his politeness and cheerfulness.
  • Genius Bruiser - Kazuki Sanada is a very strong boxer as well as an excellent strategist and a very brainy doctor. Inspired in a Real Life Genius Bruiser, according to Word of God: Irish boxer Dr. Terry Christie aka "Fighting Physician".
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! - Aiko gives one of these to Date when she notices he's frustrated and lonely as a salary man, urging him to come back to the boxing ring.
  • Glass Cannon - Hayami qualifies. He had one of the fastest and strongest techniques and won matches impressively but a 1st round KO loss against Ippo and suffering a career ending injury in a loss against Kenta Kobashi of all people can only point to this trope.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars - Sawamura gets heavy scars on his face after an accident.
  • Graceful Loser - Takeshi Sendo, Arnie Gregory, David Eagle.
  • Gratuitous English - "I want to dive lost mind / I want to dive lost mind / I want feeling / I want feeling".
    • The ending theme for the anime's second season, titled 8am, is in English, but many of the lyrics don't make sense.
      • The lyrics actually make a good deal of sense (long as you can read them), save for some bad grammar in the first verse. Thanks to two Half-Americans in Coldrain (the band that does the ED song).
    • Most of the ending or opening themes for the anime have had some form of this trope, really. The ratio of making sense is maybe about 50/50.
  • Guile Hero - Takamura is a Jerkass, yeah. But few people can pull off as many CMOAs as he can in the ring.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper - It doesn't really take much to make Coach Kamogawa angry and when he does, he can beat even Takamura senseless with his cane.
  • Healthcare Motivation - Volg came to Japan to help his ailing mother with the fight money. He fails.
  • Hello, Nurse! - Dr. Yamaguchi is a Hello Doctor case. She's a friendly and cheerful young doctor who has her own clinic, and how she often wears very short miniskirts and possesses ample assets do the rest. (Oh, and Yamaguchi's so Married to the Job that she completely fails to notice her effect on Ippo's sempais).
  • He's Back - Pretty much the whole Date sub-plot is about his return to the ring, after years of retirement.
  • Hey, It's That Voice! - The Latin-American fans have had massive wtf's and lulz over Ippo being voiced by Ash Ketchum...
  • Honor Before Reason - In a way, the entire point of the series. There are countless points in the series where the characters' actions are fueled by nothing more than pride or honor, even when all logical consideration argues against it. The Kamogawa flashback arc, Kamogawa and Nekota lament that the concept "Japanese pride" was what lost World War II, and that the Western world's way of using logic and reason above spirit now rules the world. Read that entire conversation, and it's clear that Ippo's Ass Pull victories are part of the manga's Aesop.
  • Hot Scoop - Mari Iimura.
  • Heroic Sociopath - Ryo Mashiba.
  • Hot-Blooded - Everyone in the ring, but special mention goes to Sendo for being Hot-Blooded also outside of it.
  • Hurricane of Puns - Don't like puns? Avoid having dinner with the whole Itagaki family at all costs. And don't even think about challenging Manabu Itagaki's dad!
  • Husky Russkie - Subverted by Russian boxer Volg, who is a force to be reckoned with inside the ring but humble and polite to the point of shyness outside. He's not even that tall, either, compared with other boxers of the same category.
  • Hypocritical Humor - In chapter 812, Sendo says his manager is a whipped dog for wanting to hang out with someone who beat him, only to hang out with Ippo (who beat him) the second after. It's lampshaded too.
  • Identical Panel Gag: The first pages of the two fights between Aoki and Papaya both have a rigorously identical panel layout and an identical pose for Aoki. So are the pages where Aoki takes the "Coconut Punch". The two fights are dozens of chapters apart, making it doubly hilarious when you realize that.
  • I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy - Itagaki Manabu, in regards to Kumi. He knows how deep she and Ippo are for one-another, so he holds no delusions of ever having a shot.
  • Ill Girl - Two older women fit the trope: Volg's mother who actually passes away later in the story. and Kamogawa's old friend Yuki-san who also perishes, as she was already dying of radiation poisoning when she met Kamogawa and Nekota. In Date's backstory, his wife Aiko is mentioned to have a frail health and has a miscarriage at one point.
    • Male example: Keiichi Take's son, Hide. Take's career was ruined because he had to forfeit his fight with Date to look after little Hide, who was hospitalized. People accused him of being a coward and Hide was bullied becaus of that, which urges Take to take up boxing again to prove he was no coward.
  • International Showdown by Proxy - The match of Takamura against Bryan Hawk for the world title. It takes place in a Japanese boxing hall, so basically the entire audience is rooting for Takamura. It helps that Bryan Hawk is blatantly racist against the "weak" Japanese.
  • Irony - Before the Mashiba vs. Sawamura fight, when Kimura gloats over it hoping that they will rip each other apart and leave the champion seat free for the other "non-monster" Jr. Lightweights like him, it's Played for Laughs. After said fight, Mashiba is disqualified and suspended and Sawamura is forced into retirement by a motorbike accident, granting Kimura's initial wish. This time, he doesn't laugh. Well, not right away.
  • It's Personal - Miyata, towards Randy Boy Jr. Explained by the fact that their fathers also were rivals. Randy's father caused the retirement of Miyata's by seriously injuring his jaw... and for more irony, Randy Sr. sustained brain injuries from the same fight, which caused his death some time later.
    • Averted with Randy Boy, who doesn't really care about the rivalry, even the death part.
  • Japanese Pronouns - Takamura constantly refers to himself as "ore-sama."
  • Jerkass - Takamura, who else?
  • Jerkass Facade - Kojima. In reality he's a really nice guy who idolizes Ippo and he's only taunting Ippo so Ippo can fight him at his very best.
  • Karaoke Box - one of the Kamogawa Gym's favorite pastimes.
  • Keet - Woli
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover - Believe it or not, Sendou, the Naniwa tiger, absolutely loves cats.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother - Ryo Mashiba toward his sister Kumi. He lives by two rules; this is one of 'em.
  • A Lady on Each Arm - BRYAN HAWK
  • Lightning Bruiser - Takamura is ridiculously strong (able to punch someone out of the boxing ring while being completely dehydrated), has monstrous stamina that surpasses even Ippo's and on top of that, he is also very fast. The reason why he's seemingly unbeatable is because his abilities are superb in every aspect. And if that wouldn't be enough, he's very intelligent too. (Inside the ring, at least.)
  • Likes Older Women - First inverted with Nanako, who is in love with the five-year older Ippo. And surprisingly, played straight with her brother Manabu later. He is in love with Kumi who is three years older than he is. When he realizes he will never have a chance with her, he dates Mari, who is five years older. The latter is not very enthusiastic about it: considering Manabu's rather childish behaviour, his blunt and repeated reminding that they are both Hopeless Suitors, and the fact that he is insistent on considering they are on a date while she just wants to interview him, that's not too surprising.
  • Living Legend: Ricardo Martinez is the Mexican long-time featherweight world champion who never lost. He's actually called "The only living super-legend" and it's said that there's a higher chance that Mexican citizens know him than their own president.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters - In a manga that is approaching the 1000 chapters, that's probably bound to happen.
  • Long Runner - The magna's been going for over twenty years now.
  • Love Triangle - Kumi, Nanako and Ippo. Though the list gradually lengthens.
  • Madness Mantra - That is NOT what you want to see looking at you between your arms, especially when he's usually the prettyboy.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: If uncensored manmeat offends your squeamish little heart, don't bother reading the manga.
  • Married to the Job - In chapter 573, after Ippo has spent his fight money to buy wooden logs, Manabu comments that Ippo has a "boxing glove in his head instead of brains". Poor Kumi will not disagree with that one...
  • Mega Manning - Itagaki. Picked up Miyata's Jolt counter after watching him defeat Randy Boy Jr with it, picked up the rope-grabbing trick from Woli, and has used Kimura's Dragonfish Blow.
  • Meganekko - Reiko Mikami, Mari Iimura, Dr. Yamaguchi
  • Momma's Boy - Ippo and Volg adore their mothers. In a subversion, both moms don't exactly fit the My Beloved Smother trope that usually goes with this one: they're both caring and loving women who do not dominate their boys.
  • Morality Pet - Kumi, for her brother Ryo Mashiba.
  • My Greatest Second Chance - Date's backstory. Back when he was a young and promising boxer and the Japanese champion, he fought against the undefeatable world champion Ricardo Martinez, but lost in the second round. After that, he quit boxing, until his wife Aiko pulled a What the Hell, Hero? on him because she could see he was bored and depressed with his life as a salary man and urges him to step back into the boxing ring. He does, and becomes Japanese champion again. After actually winning against Ippo, he once again challenges Ricardo Martinez and it's shown that he surpassed his old self, however, he does fail to win against Martinez yet again and retires forever, becoming a trainer instead. I guess that last part was a subversion.
  • Nature Hero - Woli's man reason for boxing is to get rich and famous, and use his fame and wealth to protect the environment.
  • No Export for You - The first animé series was released in the United States as Fighting Spirit, but the manga has yet to be released here. The second animé and Mashiba vs. Kimura OVA were also not released here due to a combination of Fighting Spirit not selling well and Geneon closing its US doors.
  • Noodle People - The Art Evolution has somehow led to a variation of this for some characters who seem to have unplausibly thin legs and arms during the fights (but still have a muscular torso). [1] is a prime example.
  • No Sense of Direction - Volg, when he meets Ippo. Justified Trope since he's Russian and had a very rusty Japanese back then, so he couldn't read the kanji on the subway signs adequately.
  • Not So Different - Takamura and Bryan Hawk's fight basically has this as it's conclusion. They're both Jerkasses; Takamura just has a bit more of a veneer of humanity than Hawk. Takamura's the one who leaves his opponent broken with fear however.
  • Oblivious Mockery: A flashback shows us how Genji Kamogawa hardened his fists by punching large wooden logs into a hill. Later in the manga, Ippo hits logs into a hill with a hammer to train his leg and body muscles. Itagaki tells Kamogawa about this training.

Kamogawa: He's hitting logs into the earth?! He can't be doing it with his fists?!
Itagaki (laughing): If he did that he'd break his fists! There's no one reckless and stupid enough to do that! He uses a hammer.
Kamogawa: Ye… yeah… fists would be reckless and stupid…

  • Oblivious to Love - While Ippo and Kumi seem to be well aware of the chemistry between them, and Ippo mostly tries to brush off Nanako's infatuation, he appears to be completely unaware of Mari's crush on him.
    • It's not like Mari is particularly demonstrative about it though
    • Itagaki begins showing signs of a crush on Kumi also, but tends to back off because of his friendship with Ippo.
  • Odd Friendship - Itagaki and Mashiba surpringly get along well, after Itagaki tricks him into helping him prepare for his match. They've even gone out shopping together.
    • To a lesser extent, you might be surprised to find out that Sendo and Sawamura are friends, let alone Vitriolic Best Buds.
  • Opposing Sports Team - Subverted, since the rivals are usually given well-detailed backstories that make them more human.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience - Around chapter 700, the Kamogawa team is engaged in a baseball match for a few chapters. They win thanks to Wanpo. It's quite refreshing, but also borders on Mood Whiplash considering it comes just after the Mashiba vs. Sawamura fight, which was nothing short of a bloodbath
    • For a slightly less out of genre experience, the series temporarily becomes a delinquent manga in volume 25 when revealing Aoki and Kimura's backstory.
  • Parental Abandonment - A lot of boxers have missing parents. Ippo's fisherman dad Kazuo drowned at sea while rescuing others, and nothing is said about Volg's and Yamada's fathers. Miyata's mother abandoned him when he was a child. Sendo's parents are both dead (his mother may have died when he was born or very soon afterwards), and he lives with his paternal grandmother. Takamura is from a wealthy family, but his parents disowned him when he was in high school, due to his violent nature. The loss of both of his parents when he was in highschool was Ryo Mashiba's Freudian Excuse, too. Sawamura is distanced from his mother after he attempts to kill her abusive boyfriend with a knife.
  • Perpetual Frowner - Mashiba, Manabu's rival Imai Kyousuke
  • Playing Against Type - Kobayashi Sanae plays a Yamato Nadeshiko, despite being a specialist in boys and Tsunderes and even having a Yandere, Lucy/Nyu from Elfen Lied, under her sleeve.
  • Promotion to Parent - Mashiba
  • Punched Across the Room - Well, more like punched across the ring, but Ippo sends Hisato flying across the mat, flipping in the air until he finally rolls to a stop and is declared K.O.'d. It was Ippo's first and last punch in that match to boot, after taking a counter that was considered to be the equivalent of Two Tons of weight behind it.
  • Raging Stiffie - Not that surprisingly, this happens several times to Ippo, forcing him to do a Groin Attack on himself when Dr. Yamaguchi massages him. It can also happen in the shower, for no reason at all. And of course, it just has to happen when he sees Kumi in a swimsuit for the first time at the swimming pool.

Kumi: Be careful Nanako, his muscles are very stiff.
Nanako (smiling): They are indeed.
Ippo (thinking): Not that one!

  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun? - Takamura beating up a bear
  • Scary Black Man - As already mentioned, subverted with the scary-looking but sweet Jason Ozma.
  • Shrinking Violet - Ippo himself in the beginning, later Naomichi Yamada. Both are total Butt Monkeys. Kumi Mashiba is a mild example.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang - The Mashiba siblings. The sweet-natured Kumi wins Ippo's attention, but brother Ryo just generally comes across as a borderline psychopath. About the only person who's not scared of him is Kumi herself, who has been known to slap him to the floor when he gets out of hand.
  • Skilled but Naive - With monkey-like agility and genius-level skill, Woli is this, being touted as the "Takamura" of featherweights after winning the Indonesian Championship not only in just three fights, but also at the age of 17. His inexperience is the only thing Ippo had as an advantage in their fight. To a lesser degree, this is also Itagaki's Achilles' Heel, and most of his Character Development is him trying to grow out of this phase.
  • Slasher Smile - Mashiba, Sawamura, Brian Hawk, hell, even Sendo has one.
    • Recently, even Itagaki got his own!
  • Spam Attack - Ippo's Dempsey Roll.
  • Spell My Name with an "S" - Translators don't all agree over Volg/Vorg Zangief/Zanghief's name looking at his shorts on the ring, it seems to be Volg though.
  • Spiritual Successor - To Ashita no Joe. Sendou even has Joe's characteristics.
  • Take That - To Seo Kouji's writing, in a Shout-Out to the Tokyo Arc to Kimi no Iru Machi.
  • Team Dad - Coach Kamogawa, so much.
  • Team Mom - A male one: Tomohiko "Yagi-chan" Yagi, Kamogawa's right hand and the manager of the Gym.
  • Team Pet - Wanpo is Ippo's dog but since he accompanies him during training he is basically the Team Pet of the Kamogawa gym. Hell, Takamura even brings him along in one training camp!
  • The Idiot From Osaka - The brash and talkative Naniwa Tiger - Sendo. He loves boxing solely for the chance to face strong men in the ring. He used to be a gang leader, fighting to defend the weak. His own grandmother even uses "idiot" as an endearment. In the anime, Masaya Onosaka voices him with a strong Osaka accent.
  • Theme Music Power-Up - Inner Light often plays during Ippo's final drive to victory in a given match. It is used for other boxers as well, during a critical segment of a fight.
  • There Are Two Kinds Of Boxers In The World - Sendo believes in this, as seen here
  • Throwing the Fight - Malcolm Gedo will throw his fights for the right price. Hell, this guy would do anything for money full stop.
  • Those Two Guys - The two Gonks who admire and obey Aoki, called "the Aoki-gumi". They have no talent for boxing whatsoever, nor do they want to train or work − because they believe Aoki got that far without any work himself. Everyone at Kamogawa gym wonders why they come to the gym in the first place. For a few hundred chapters they don't even have a name. They are just the Aoki-gumi. Even when they seem to have Taken A Level In Badass, it doesn't last long and is rather Played for Laughs. In a lesser extent, Aoki and Kimura also are this: when Fujii details the talents of Kamogawa gym, he names Ippo, Takamamura, Itagaki and two other guys. They are even named "Aokimura" by Itagaki, much to their annoyance!
  • Tiger Versus Dragon - Sendo and Sawamura
  • Tomokazu Seki - The voice behind Miyata.
  • Took a Level in Badass - Ippo's Boxing Lesson eventually leads to this.
    • In a slightly straighter example, Naomichi Yamada, a slightly chubby and somewhat inept boxer who trains at Kamogawa Gym (and is nicknamed 'Geromichi' due to his unfortunate tendency to barf after training) until his family is forced to move is replaced by the intimidating, brutal-looking Hammer Nao. To quote Kimura and Aoki upon finding out, "THAT'S GEROMICHI?"
    • Then there's Kenta Kobashi. During the leadup to Ippo's fight against Hayami, Kenta confessed that even after observing every one of Hayami's fights, he couldn't find any way to beat him or the Shotgun technique. When they finally do fight several years later, Kenta had grown enough to give Hayami injuries severe enough that they ended his career.
  • Toshiyuki Morikawa - As Volg, pretty much Playing Against Type.
  • Trademark Favorite Food - The Indonesian champion, Woli, is almost always seen eating a Banana.
  • Training from Hell - Many training sequences, most featuring a shouting Coach Kamogawa, are like this. However, the must difficult training that characters seem to go through is their weight training, which can leave them as shells of their former selves.
    • Some characters don't suffer much from the weight training (Ippo is naturally featherweight and seems to meet the weight with little trouble at all most times). On the flipside, Takamura probably has the worst of all, when he forcibly keeps himself five classes underweight for a title match since there's a general lack of credibility in the Pacific Heavyweight scene. This adds up to forcing himself 50 lbs. underweight. The results of such weight management are suitably hellish.
  • Tranquil Fury - Normally, Ippo is nearly impossible to anger. Trash talk and Jerkass behavior fail to even phase him, because of his humble personality. However, in Chapter 919...someone makes the mistake of calling all of the former opponents that Ippo has beaten (and deeply respects) "trash". Ippo does NOT take it well.
    • Later, in Chapter 928, the same opponent then insults the training Ippo's received from Coach Kamogawa. Keep in mind, Ippo never worries about his performance in a bout because he has complete faith in his coach's ability. The guy just pushed the absolute wrong button.
  • Tournament Arc - Aside from title defenses and challenges, several tournaments take place every year in the series and are an essential part of the story.
  • Training Montage - Happens many times in the anime, usually to this theme.
  • True Companions - It doesn't matter how much Aoki, Kimura and Takamura tease and often downright bully Ippo: when he truly needs their support and advice, they're always by his side.
  • Twice Shy - Good Lord, Ippo and Kumi.
  • Unconscious Objector: Frequently a fighter—most notably Ippo and Sendo—will continue to box through muscle memory even after he's been knocked unconscious.
  • Unskilled but Strong - Takeshi Sendo and Brian Hawk.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds - Imai and Itagaki are definitely this after their fight, and arguably even before. Sendou and Sawamura can also qualify. Even Aoki and Kimura often fall into this trope actually.
  • Volleying Insults - Lots of people, but specially Takamura and Date. Then, they team-up once as Combat Commentators ...
  • Vomit Discretion Shot - Yamada always pukes after training, falling into this trope since we don't see the "results". He's even nicknamed "Geromichi" (a nickname coming from the Japanese word for "vomit") for this.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife - Hilariously subverted with Aoki and his girlfriend, Nurse Tomiko. He has a fetish for ugly women ( which came from his beautiful ex-girlfriend Miyuki cheating on him ) and she's a mix of Genki Girl and female Gonk.
    • Subverted again by Aoki's opponent in his first title challenge, Lightweight Champ Imae Katsukata and his girlfriend Sachiko. They share the same preference for ugly women.
    • Played straight with the Itagaki family. The mother's a generically cute Hot Shounen Mom, the dad is the show's biggest Gonk.
  • Weak but Skilled - Kenta Kobashi. Considered a mediocre boxer for his lack of power and knockout wins, Kobashi nevertheless gave Ippo a run for his money by playing mind-games, making frequent use of clinches, and using a stance that allowed him to easily reach with point-getting jabs. By playing with the rules and being very Genre Savvy, Kobashi managed to win most of his matches. He would've beaten Ippo too, if he hadn't accidentally scored a solid blow on Ippo during a dodge, and gotten entranced with the 'feel' of the knockout punch.
  • We Help the Helpless - Sendo became a Delinquent not to abuse others, but to protect them.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic - Mashiba growing a horn-like bump? Hell yes! Malcolm Gedo's face also looks a lot like a skull when he is smiling in the ring
  • What the Hell, Hero? - Takamura pulls a big one on Ippo when he almost loses against Kobashi. In the first episodes, he also got pissed off when he thought Ippo wasn't serious enough about boxing.
    • Takamura himself is repeteadly called out by Team Dad Kamogawa for his Jerkass behavior. The old man has beaten the shit out of his more powerful boxer with his cane more than once, and it's more than often Played for Laughs.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer - At first, Ippo only had his strength to rely on, and later the Dempsey Roll. He subverts this later by reeling his boxing style back to the very basics.
  • Wild Child - Woli the Indonesian champion lives in a very isolated island village and spends most of his time jumping around between trees, playing with monkeys. However he is social and fairly eloquent and intelligent sounding, if very young and naive, and he just has animalistic mannerisms and extreme hyperactivity.
  • The Worf Effect - Ricardo Martinez, meet the Dempsey Roll! Dempsey Roll, meet Ricardo's nonchalant punches!
  • Wrestler in All of Us - Takamura and his German Suplex.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko - Kumi Mashiba, Ippo's mother Hiroko, Date's wife Aiko who actually was The Ojou and had to face her family's worry and opposition when she married Date.
  • Younger Than They Look - Date. And Takamura isn't above hanging lampshades all over it, much to Date's annoyance.