Joe is a wandering orphan and street fighter who is looking for his purpose in life. One day, Joe meets his future coach Dampei who notices his tremendous fighting talent and wants to train him no matter what; however, rather than using this opportunity for good, Joe instead uses it to get easy money from Dampei and concoct a scam using local children. As one would suspect Joe is soon sent to jail, but Dampei doesn’t give up his hopes for the boy and vows to continue his training via letters. Will Joe give up his shady ways and become a world class boxer?
Ippo Makunouchi is a loser. He has no friends, he spends his free time helping his mom with work, and he's constantly being beaten up by bullies. But that all changes when one day he's saved from another beating by Takamura, an up-and-coming boxer. Soon, Ippo turns his life around with a passion for the newly discovered sport, but his new lifestyle is far from easy! Before he can even dream of becoming champion, he'll have to overcome a slew of fierce rivals and learn what 'dedication' really means.