A better future
In early 2007, Howard moved to the Wai Kru gym and began studying under Allan, a former Muay Thai fighter and collegiate wrestler from Walpole known within the gym as Kru John — “Kru” being a title given to a Muay Thai instructor — and his staff of trainers and coaches. Since coming to the gym, Allan says, Howard has only gotten better, and has actually outpaced some of the star fighters who were there before him.

“The way I understand this kid is, he was a star athlete in high school,” says Allan. “He’s a winner, man. He’s an athlete and a winner. He had awful fights against people way better than him, that were beating the fuck out of him, and he’d just pull a submission win out of them. That says a lot about who he is, and what he’s capable of. I mean, when he’s the guy kicking ass, it’s going to be a little different.”

Outside the ring, Howard doesn’t quite match his terrifying moniker — he’s a warm and friendly dude. He spends his first few minutes in the gym talking to whomever happens to be in there, asking about fights and injuries, and he joins in on classes with the others, both to learn and to teach. But his calmness belies the aggression pent up in him from his childhood. He got into the occasional fight as a kid, and there are still times that he has to defend himself today. Of course, now he has a career and a family to worry about.

Howard isn’t married. He lives with his mother, but he also has three daughters — a six month old, a four year old, and a five year old — who were born to and live with two different mothers. He says that the children weren’t something that he wanted at this point in his life, but he tries to be as active in their lives as he can.

“I go to their schools, I meet their teachers,” says Howard. “I make sure they do their homework, make sure they brush their teeth. They know who their father is, and they love their father. The only reason that I [fight] is to hopefully give them a better future — better than mine.”

Fate, God, and a broken jaw
At the risk of drawing cliché comparisons to Rocky Balboa, Howard has always been an against-the-odds fighter. He would get pummeled, and then refuse to go down. Two of his losses were by decision — with the third by technical knock out, coming from a referee stoppage — and, until this past March, he had won fights only by submission (in other words, he never knocked anyone out, only forced tap outs, often after taking a beating himself). That changed this past March in Atlantic City, when he took on New Jersey–based fighter Jose Rodriguez in the Ring of Combat XVIII, one of a series of regular tournaments held in the Northeast.

Around the four-minute mark of the first round of that bout, Rodriguez dropped his hands, opening his head to a volley of savage hooks. The Jersey boy went down, and Howard landed one last hammer fist before the referee called the fight as a knockout. While the medical staff attended to the unconscious Rodriguez, Doomsday the victor rushed to his corner to celebrate.

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