Dorchester UFC Fighter Wants to Empower Local Youth Through Mixed Martial Arts

John Howard is teaming up with a Boston-based non-profit organization to inspire kids who are struggling with poverty and violence.

John Howard is seen before his fight against Lorenz Larkin at UFC Fight Night Boston, Sunday, January 18, 2015 in Boston. Larkin won via first round TKO. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

John Howard Photo by Gregory Payan / AP

UFC star John Howard hopes to empower local youth through mixed martial arts when he stops by the YMCA of Boston on Thursday night.

The Dorchester native is teaming up with Level Ground, a Boston-based non-profit organization that works with kids who are struggling to overcome issues such as poverty and violence.

The group’s mission is very close to Howard’s heart since he had to endure many of the same struggles while growing up on the rougher side of the city. He says that getting involved with MMA helped him to stay on the right path, which is why he wants to inspire others to take up the sport.

“It’s such a great therapy,” Howard says. “Even though we come from hard times and humble beginnings, we can channel our anger or our extra energy into something positive.”

The UFC fighter credits his daily training regimen for teaching him humility and self control, lessons he believes are invaluable to today’s struggling youth.

Howard hopes that by sharing his story, as well as a few cool moves, the kids in attendance will see that it is possible to overcome a troublesome upbringing.

“Even though life is tough and hard, if you keep striving for what you want, you can get to your goal in life,” he says. “So I want to share that experience, especially with the kids being from the same neighborhood, same atmosphere I grew up with.”

Following the talk, Howard will once again focus his efforts on his latest training camp as he prepares to take on Tim Means in Las Vegas on December 10. The fan favorite fighter, who also once broke Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s nose, hopes he can finish Means quickly so that he can make a case for fighting on the upcoming UFC card in Boston.

“If everything happens right and I get that quick win, then yes, you’ll see me on the Boston card,” Howard says.

John Howard will be speaking at the YMCA of Boston on Thursday, November 5 at 6 p.m.