New York exoneree Dewey Bozella’s dream to become a professional boxer was realized on Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Bozella, 52, won his debut bout against Larry Hopkins in a unanimous decision.
Two days earlier, Bozella, who was wrongfully convicted of murder and spent 26 years in prison before being exonerated in 2009, received a phone call from President Obama wishing him luck in the fight.
Bozella started the fight slow but then outpunched and outworked his younger opponent, Hopkins, 30, in a cruiserweight bout, according to
The New York Times
. “Dreams do happen if you never give up hope and always believe in yourself,” Bozella said in a televised interview after the fight. “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.”
This will be Bozella’s one and only professional fight.
“My next fight is to work with kids, the Dewey Bozella Foundation, that’s what I’m trying to get started to work with kids to keep them off the streets, to let them know through boxing they can turn their life around,” he said.
Bozella caught the eye of Golden Boy Promotions, who organized the fight, in July when he was was honored by ESPN with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on the annual ESPY Award show.