Kenta Kobashi (小橋 健太 lit. Kobashi Kenta) is a semi-recurring character in Hajime no Ippo.
He is a retired out-boxer and former JBC Junior Featherweight Champion. His main fights in the series are against Makunouchi Ippo and Hayami Ryūichi. He currently works as a boxing trainer affiliated with the Ohtaki Boxing Gym.
His surname is Kobashi. In Japan, surnames are listed before given names.
First introduced when the members of the Kamogawa Boxing Gym watch boxing tapes of him in his matches, Aoki Masaru and Kimura Tatsuya are both unimpressed with his performance and inform Ippo that Kobashi would be an easy win for Ippo due to his dull tactics and lack of KO wins in the ring.
Later at the gym, Ippo notices an individual watching through the windows of the gym, the figure briskly takes leave before Ippo could talk to him, but not before dropping a notebook. Though Kobashi is distraught that Ippo acquired his notebook, containing notes on Ippo's weaknesses, he becomes less agitated when Ippo eventually caught up and revealed that he did not look at the notebook. Kobashi expresses his jealousy towards Ippo's punching power and admits that he was spying on him to take notes. He takes his leave but not before informing Ippo that although he does not posses any outstanding techniques, the outcome of boxing is not always determined by these factors.
Over at the Ohtaki Boxing Gym, Kobashi is seen sparring. relying on his regular strategy of using dull jabs and clinching. He is subsequently jeered by other gym-mates for his weak punching power. Kobashi is soon approached by his supportive coach Yasuda who cheers him up by telling him of the boxer Maxie "Slapsie" Rosenbloom who achieved 222 victories, but only won 19 of these victories by KO. Yasuda decides to treat Kobashi to noodles and the two discuss his upcoming fight; though Kobashi is extremely nervous, he still has the confidence that he can win.
Kobashi is seen again in his match against Ippo. A match he decides to win through taking points once again before he, out of instinct, throws a powerful straight punch at Ippo, who in turn buckled from the unguarded attack. Kobashi, surprised at his own strength, then resolved to finish the match with his own two fists, wishing for a KO victory more than ever, he is knocked out by Ippo in the last seconds of the match. Kobashi is later seen in the resting room apologizing to his coach for losing. In turn, his coach informs him that the one straight he landed was a "great punch", and that Kobashi should start over again.
Some time later Kobashi defeats Hayami Ryūichi and claims the JBC Junior Featherweight Title, only to end up relinquishing/losing it without a single title defense. He subsequently becomes a trainer at the Ohtaki Boxing Gym.
|WIN||15-2-0||Hayami Ryūichi||KO||8(10)||1994||Tokyo, Japan||Won Japanese Junior Featherweight title. Subsequently relinquished/lost it and retired without a single title defense.|
|LOSS||4-2-0||Makunouchi Ippo||KO||4(4) 2:58||1991-08||Tokyo, Japan||East Japan Rookie King Tournament Quarter Finals|
|WIN||4-1-0||Yoshida Mitsuo||Decision||4(4), 3:00||1991-08||Tokyo, Japan||East Japan Rookie King Tournament Round 2|
|WIN||3-1-0||Koichi Takahashi||Decision||4(4), 3:00||1991||Tokyo, Japan||East Japan Rookie King Tournament Round 1|
|Preceded by||Title||Succeeded by|
|Sanada Kazuki||JBC Junior Featherweight Champion||
While muscular and average in height, Kobashi is known for his weak and fragile body despite being in the featherweight division. His appearance is largely without special quirks, with a pale skin tone and short black hair, he stands as one of the more plainly designed characters in the series. His eyebrows are of average thickness, matching the color of his dark eyes.
Kobashi, like Makunouchi Ippo, possesses an openly shy, mellow attitude with a lacking in self-confidence, possibly even more so than the latter. This attitude is the result of Kobashi possessing relatively weak punches, being forced to adopt an outboxing style that many consider to be "cowardly", and he is regularly mocked by his peers for lacking any punching power. He is shown to be extremely uncomfortable around most people and displays a want to avoid any social interaction with others. However Kobashi has a (typically dormant) fighting spirit that occasionally emerges during matches, as seen in his match against Ippo where he, despite his fragile body, wanted to win against Ippo with a KO because he "felt it in his fist". After his loss, Kobashi shows a very encouraging personality towards Ippo, whom he requests to win in the tournament for the sake of both he and Ippo's previous opponents.
Kobashi's boxing style is considered that of a lower key compared to other characters in the series. Not sharing the great skill of his fellow featherweight boxers, Kobashi usually relies on dull tactics such as simple jabs, footwork, clinches and a strong cross-arm block to achieve victory through points, rendering his style extremely defensive and absent of any blows with a knockout intent. Kobashi's boxing stance has his left arm outstretched, positioning himself to be a difficult target and keeping his opponent at the perfect distance for scoring. While usually lacking hugely in power, Kobashi has shown some hidden potential for great strength in his matches against Ippo and Hayami.
- Cross-Arm Block
- Orthodox Boxing Techniques (most prominently the jab and on one occasion the straight)
Kobashi's physique is generally inferior. In particular, he lacks a strong punch - a weakness brought up by his sparring partners and coach. Consequently, his fighting style is more defense-orientated and focuses on winning by points as opposed to by KO.
Kobashi's major weakness, as displayed in both his fight against Ippo and Hayami, is his innate desire to win by knockout, as his drive to land clean hits against his opponent clouds his focus and results in him dropping his guard. After a successful one-two against Ippo, Kobashi abandoned his game plan of winning by points and attempts to fight toe-to-toe with him, ultimately losing against the heavy hitter. This is also evident in his fight against Hayami; despite ultimately winning the match by K.O, Kobashi still took several clean hits due to his recklessness.
- He shares the same name (as well as kanji) with real-life professional wrestler and promotional star Kobashi Kenta.
- He also bares a slightly similar appearance to fellow boxer Joe Yabuki from the manga Ashita no Joe.
- ↑ Round 461, page 6