October 19th, 2011
Dewey Bozella always dreamed of boxing professionally. As a teenager, he had boxed as an amateur before his arrest at age 18 for the murder of 92-year-old woman in Poughkeepsie, New York. His conviction primarily rested on the testimony of two criminals who repeatedly changed their stories. However, a fingerprint found at the scene matched Donald Wise, who was later convicted of a similar murder in the same neighborhood. Bozella was retried for the crime in 1990 and prosecutors offered a deal where if he pled guilty, he could go free. Refusing to admit to a crime that he did not commit, he was re-convicted by a jury. In 2009, the Innocence Project referred the case to the law firm WilmerHale where lawyers working on the case located a file that the police lieutenant had saved. The file contained exculpatory evidence that was never turned over to defense attorneys. After 26 years in prison, Mr. Bozella walked free on October 28, 2009.
Now 52, Mr. Bozella’s dream of becoming a professional boxer has finally come true. During the 26 years he spent in prison, Mr. Bozella continued to box, working out in a space formerly used for executions performed in the prison. While at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York, he was the light-heavyweight champion. In September 2011, he passed the licensing test to become the oldest boxer ever licensed in the state of California. On Thursday afternoon, President Obama called Bozella to wish him luck in Saturday’s fight. In what he says will be his first and only professional fight, Bozella defeated his opponent in a unanimous decision on Saturday. After the fight he said, “Dreams do happen if you never give up hope and always believe in yourself.” He says that his next fight will be to help kids stay off the streets by opening his own boxing ring in upstate New York.