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Fighting Spirit, known in Japan as The First Step (はじめの一歩, Hajime no Ippo), is a boxing manga and anime series created by Jōji "George" Morikawa which is serialized by Kodansha in Weekly Shōnen Magazine. The plot follows the story of highschool student Makunouchi Ippo, as he begins his career in boxing and over time obtains many titles and defeats various opponents.
The manga has been running since 1989 and spans 96 tankōbon so far. A 76-episode anime adaption titled Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting! was produced by Madhouse, Nippon Television and VAP, directed by Satoshi Nishimura and ran on the Nippon Television Network from October 2000 to March 2002. One OVA and a movie were also produced. At the end of 2003 the anime was licensed in North America by Geneon. Geneon released it as Fighting Spirit. It was called Knock Out! in the Philippines.
On September 15, 2008 it was announced in Weekly Shōnen Magazine that a second season of Hajime no Ippo would begin airing on January 6, 2009. The second season is called Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger and concluded on June 30, 2009.
Makunouchi Ippo is always busy with his night fishing job, and gets bullied a lot. After some inspiration from magazines, videos, and boxers, he decided to take up boxing. Boxing changed Ippo's life, and now his dream is to become pro and fight in matches.