New York Exoneree to Make Boxing Debut
New York exoneree Dewey Bozella, who turned to boxing during his 26 years behind bars, will get the chance to have his dream of fighting in a professional boxing match on October 15.
Just two years after being exonerated for murder, Bozella will make his professional boxing debut on Saturday in Los Angeles at the age of 52, on the undercard of the light-heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, reported The New York Times. (Hopkins, 46 became the oldest fighter to win a major world championship this May.)
“I want to go out there and give 100 percent and then move on with my life,” he said. “This is not a career move. It’s a personal move and a way to let people know to never give up on their dreams. My favorite quote is ‘Don’t let fear determine who you are and never let where you come from determine where you’re going.’ That’s what this is about.”
Bozella was initially arrested for the 1977 burglary and murder of a 92-year-old woman, but the charges were dropped because there was no evidence linking him to the crime. He was rearrested for the crime six years later after two inmates, who were released from prison for their cooperation, told prosecutors that Bozella committed the murder. Even though a fingerprint was found at the crime scene that matched another individual who committed a nearly identical crime around the same time, the state went forward with the prosecution. Based solely on the strength of the informants’ testimony, Bozella was convicted.
In prison, Bozella earned a bachelor’s degree from Mercy College and a master’s from the New York Theological Seminary. He also took up boxing, becoming Sing Sing’s light-heavyweight champion.
He was a model prisoner but was denied parole several times because he wouldn’t admit that he was guilty of the murder. When he was finally exonerated, Bozella began teaching boxing skills and discipline to young people.
Then came the ESPY Awards this year, where he was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The exposure led to an offer to box professionally. And the rest is history.
Bozella hopes to open his own boxing gym in the future.
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