Edward “Teddy” Howe (1880-1972) « Michael Byers

Edward “Teddy” Howe (1880-1972)

boxer, fights promoter
companion to Mary Hempstead

Edward “Teddy” Howe was born in Landsdowne, Rhode Island, son of a circuit judge. His mother died in Howe’s infancy, and his father remarried soon thereafter. Three-time second-place finisher in the City of Providence Young Men’s Amateur Boxing Tournament (light-heavyweight division, 1902-1904) and two-time winner of the Rhode Island Strongman Competition (250-pounds-and-over category, 1908-1909), Sergeant Howe taught hand-to-hand fighting at Parris Island during the First World War. In 1920 he moved to Boston to accept a position in Jerry Fitzgerald’s promotions syndicate, where a natural affability and a talent with the press made him a favorite among Boston reporters. Married to and later divorced from Isabel Watt, Howe hired Mary Hempstead as his secretary in 1927 shortly after Mary was released from Belmont Asylum. First elected to the Rhode Island Assembly in 1934, Howe would serve as President pro-tem of the Rhode Island State Senate from 1940 to 1952.

As a fighter he was known for his steady right jab and mountainous endurance, but like any contender who is not quite first-rate he suffered a flaw: when he was angry or frightened in the ring or when any sort of emotion got the best of him he would overswing, making a bid to win the fight with one punch.  He would open up on the right side and any mook who knew the book on him would be waiting for it and that would be that.  If he could have stopped doing it he would have, but he couldn’t; he understood it to be an aspect of his character; and moreover it always seemed to make sense at the time, and anyway it displayed what he considered to be his natural self—a good self it was, too, no hesitation and prone to these unlikely declarations of love, that’s who he was, and it’s who he feels himself becoming again.

Edward’s heart feels full, it feels packed, as though more blood is suddenly reaching it, he feels a richness there now, a beautiful glory.  So hell no, he’s not sad.  He’s delighted.  He can’t believe his good fortune.  He can’t believe it might ever end.