By Jim Young
Crossville’s Chris “Hurricane” Howard will make his boxing debut on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights Feb. 15 from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
Howard is a very focused 24 year old who started boxing at the tender age of 11 and has been on the cusp of breaking through to the next level in boxing several times. He was one win away from representing Team USA in the Olympics and he had one bout that, if he had won, would have made him the number 10 ranked fighter in his weight class.
Chris stressed how blessed he was and his thanks to Jesus for saving him and for all he has been given in his life. He even looked at an injury that could have cost him his boxing career as a blessing in disguise, causing him to reevaluate how he did footwork and the extra hard work required to overcome the damage to his leg.
While doing some work for his father, Eric Howard, Chris was injured by a skill saw that cut into his leg and, as he was going into surgery, the doctor told him he might not walk for 4 to 6 months. Chris would have none of that and got out of bed to walk across the room the next day. He said that three weeks later he was running four miles to improve his recovery and rebuild his strength.
The upcoming bout will be Feb. 15 on ESPN2 and is second on the fight card. Chris will take on Bayan Jargal, “The Mongolian Mongoose.” Chris described Jargal as a “good opponent” who he expects will “try and put a lot of pressure” on him to wear him down. But Chris has his own plan for taking on the “Mongoose,” not the least of which is preparation.
Chris said he runs six miles almost every day and spends much of the rest of the day on conditioning training. He also frequently spars in other areas of Tennessee in matches set up by his father, who runs the local Crossville Boxing Club. Chris said when he spars he will have several opponents and each will box two rounds and he will face a new and fresh opponent.
Chris started boxing after watching his father box while he was a youngster. He said his dad was his hero and he saw him as Superman putting gloves on and testing his manliness against another man. Young Chris played a lot of team sports growing up and he wanted to try box, but his mom was not so sure. His dad trained him six months before he ever got in the ring and, at 11 years old, he knocked out his first opponent in the second round and was hooked.
Chris said he enjoyed the fact his victory was not shared with teammates but depended entirely on his own work. Chris won his first golden gloves bout one month later and fought in the national Junior Golden Gloves event as well as the Silver Golden Gloves matches. Chris said the travel was exciting and only the best boxers got to go.
He fought in the Olympic trials and lost a tough bout to the fighter who became the teams alternate member, a hard loss for the young amateur fighter. He soon turned pro and went 14-0 before his first professional loss. Had he won that bout, he would have been ranked tenth in the world, but he said his mind just wasn’t right and he had some trouble he had to work through to rebuild what he had accomplished, he said.
He had a title bout in August in his opponent’s home area and he was booed and says his faith in God helped him, as well as focusing on his two-year-old son. Chris fought through the entire 10 rounds and felt good about the fight, but the judges gave the split decision to his opponent. The young boxer was bothered by the results but vowed to keep after his dream.
Then came the almost devastating injury to his leg, but Chris said he felt like he was in control and he knew that with the help of family and prayer he could make it happen and come back. He expressed his thanks to all who prayed for him during his recovery time.
Chris hopes folks from his home town of Crossville will be watching and rooting for him as he reaches for the goal of getting better and better. Chris thanked local business who sponsor him including Action Heating and Cooling, Fairfield Homes, The Truss Shop, York and Bryant attorneys, Silvara Stone and Peak Fitness.