- Episodes: 75
- Aired: Oct 4, 2000 – Mar 27, 2002
Boxing has been around for over a century under its present rules. In addition to soccer, boxing is about as international of a sport as you can get and has athletes from every country you can think and that includes Japan. As many of you know, one of the top boxing titles in Japanese pop culture happens to be Hajime no Ippo. While it isn’t exactly the first ever boxing title in any media, what makes it distinct compared to other boxing franchises is how it educates the audience in relation to the sport. So for today’s article, we’d like to share how boxing is portrayed in Hajime no Ippo.
The Basic Rules
Depending on the experience level of the combatants, bouts can be 4 rounds for beginning pro boxers, 6 rounds for lower intermediate, 8 round for higher intermediate, 10 for high level regional ranked boxers and/or lower world ranked boxers, and 12 for world title bouts. Each round is 3 minutes with a 1-minute interval between rounds. Fights can be won by knockout or decision based on a 10-point must system. For each round, a winner is given 10 points while a loser can be given 9 or less by a panel of 3 judges. If in the instance of a knockdown, a mandatory count to 10 is in administered by the referee. If a downed fighter cannot get up, it is ruled a knockout. If the referee determines that a fighter can no longer protect himself, they have full authority to stop the fight.
Styles Make Fights
Though boxing is limited to punching, that doesn’t mean that every boxer fights the same way. Undeniably, knowing the jab is an important fundamental, but numerous fighters express it in many ways based on their styles and reach. The jab serves the purpose of gauging the distance, creating rhythm and pace, and setting up a cross or uppercut.
If any character is a master at using the jab, it has to be Miyata, who mixes it in with his fast footwork for sticking and moving. And there are others with advantageous reaches who use their jab from a more stationary position such as Mashiba with his flicker jab. As opposed to having his left-hand guarding his face, he hangs it around his midsection and throws his jabs like a whip from numerous angles. Due to the speed, range, and angles of his flicker jabs, it can really bust an opponent up.
In order to combat these kinds of fighters, Ippo as an in-fighter needs to close the distance. For someone like Miyata who relies on footwork, Ippo just needs to force him up against the corner and/or ropes so he won’t move. For Mashiba, Ippo needs to work on his bobbing and weaving so he can slip those jabs, get on the inside, and crush his body before he can retract his jab.
While the Rocky movies highlight the training through montages, Hajime no Ippo goes into deep detail with Ippo’s training on how he develops his game plan, muscles, and cardio. Sometimes the training can be basic such as running a good number of miles, shadow boxing, working the mitts or heavy bag, and sparring. In other instances, it progresses into other forms of unorthodox methods that are really applicable in your own personal training whether it would be for combat sports or personal fitness.
When Ippo fights Ozuma, a specialist in hooks, he uses the swinging bars at a local playground to work on his bobbing, weaving and ducking in order to counter his hooks with uppercuts. Or when he needs to work on his endurance and develop his lower body, he does squats in the pool. The water in the pool adds more resistance and requires more energy and develops the body as a whole.
Like in real boxing, weigh-ins in Hajime no Ippo are conducted the night before the fight. The present system of weigh-ins allows a fighter to rehydrate and re-gain their energy before a fight and use their natural size as an advantage. So if a fighter weigh-ins in at 126 pounds, by fight night, he could weight between 130-144 after rehydration. Though Ippo fights at his natural walking weight, the remaining cast must cut weight.
In the case of Takamura who naturally walks around 200 pounds, he has to lose 40 pounds of water weight and fat in order to make 160, Japan’s maximum weight class. Just like athletes in real life combat sports, Takamura cuts that weight off by sweating it off through hard training, sitting in a sauna, and almost starving himself. Because of the stress and lack of fluids in his brain, it also messes with his mental state, which is a real-life effect in weight cutting.
Boxing is certainly a sport where you have to be in top physical and mental condition. It is by no means easy and it isn’t easy money until you make it to the top and have the right sponsors. You need to make sacrifices and when you get into the ring, you need to be at your best and leave it all in there and that is what Hajime no Ippo does best when it portrays boxing.