“I was so humbled and overwhelmed at the president’s call. It brought tears to my eyes. I thanked him for taking an interest in my story. Wow. There is a lot riding on this fight now,” said the 52-year-old Bozella, who was released from prison in 2009 after serving 26 years of a wrongful conviction.
“This is just getting bigger. President Obama told me that he was rooting for me. I would love to meet him in person someday.”
Bozella passed a physical administered by the California State Athletic Commission on Sept. 29 allowing him to face the 30-year-old Hopkins (0-3) of Houston; this, in order to satisfy 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 HBO Pay Per View.
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, Bozella has spent his time training in Philadelphia alongside the 46-year-old Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) as he prepared 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.
“I think that it doesn’t matter whether you’re the most powerful man in the world like President Obama, or where you come from or who you are,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer.
“This is an inspirational story to all of us, and we will all join the president of the United States rooting for Dewey Bozella.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo / Dave Londres – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions