In 2009, Dewey Bozella was released from prison after serving 26 years of a wrongful conviction. Last week, he passed a physical administered by the California State Athletic Commission, and now stands ready to realize his dream of fighting as a professional boxer on the undercard of the light heavyweight bout between RING and WBC titleholder Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson on Oct. 15 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
In 1983, at the age of 23, Bozella was convicted for the murder of an elderly woman in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and given a sentence of 20 years to life, of which he served 26 years before being exonerated in 2009 by new evidence. While incarcerated, Bozella became the prison's light heavyweight champion.
Promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, the 52-year-old Bozella has spent his time training in Philadelphia alongside the 46-year-old Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs), who is preparing for the title defense opposite Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs).
On July 13, 2011, Bozella's life was chronicled in ESPN's annual ESPY Award show in the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live in Los Angeles, where he was honored as the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
Below, Bozella shared his thoughts during a media workout on Tuesday.
On being released from prison:
"People said, ‘Ah, it’ll never happen, it’ll never happen.' But it did happen. Either I was going to die in there and go out in a box, or I was going to walk out of there."
On earning bachelor's and master’s degrees in prison:
On his being approved to fight and training with Hopkins:
On being in the ring on Oct. 15:
On his plans beyond the fight:
"My gym is going to be for whoever comes in. But it’s going to be for the kids. I am a professional fighter. I’m here."
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo / Dave Londres – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions