Hajime no Ippo, one of Japan’s longest-running sports-based manga, has been in publication since 1989. It tells the journey of a young and aspiring boxer, Ippo Makunochi, as he rises through the ranks of pro boxing. He’s had numerous fights, endured hundreds of injuries, and has yet to recoup from his losses against a few opponents.

All that comes to a screeching halt as the latest chapter, 1208 entitled Kinoha, sees Ippo throwing the towel for good. Makunochi has suddenly announced his retirement from boxing.

This announcement comes after visiting his doctor, with the latter explaining concerns about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain degenerative disorder affecting people with multiple head injuries, particularly common among athletes in contact sports, like boxing. Symptoms include changes in mood, behavior, and affect; memory and cognitive dysfunction; and eventually, dementia and parkinsonism. There’s no definite way of knowing if a person has CTE until after death, when the brain has been excised and thoroughly inspected for deterioration.

The doctor proceeded to warn Ippo that continued boxing would be dangerous and detrimental to his health. This prompted Ippo to return to his gym and finally announce his plans to retire.

We have yet to know how the current rivalries, like Ricardo Martinez or Ichiro Miyata, will be resolved, now that Ippo will be hanging up his gloves. How the manga will move forward without its eponymous protagonist is up in the air until the next chapter.