Imagine spending 26 years in prison for a crime you did not commit. It could happen to anyone. When you think about it in simple terms, there is no difference between any of us and 52-year-old Dewey Bozella. Like all (hopefully) of us, Bozella did not commit murder. Unlike the rest of us, he had to serve an enormous chunk of his life in prison for no reason.
As told by the New York Times, Bozella had a troubled childhood growing up in New York and came from a violent home. In 1977 when he was 18 years old, a 92-year-old woman named Emma Crasper was murdered in her Poughkeepsie home. Six years later, Bozella was convicted of the murder based on the testimonies of two criminals.
There was no physical evidence to support that Bozella was guilty of the crime, but a jury convicted him anyway. In 1990, he was offered a deal that would let him go free. In order to be released from prison, Bozella had to admit that he had committed the crime. When he refused the deal, a jury convicted him once again.
After repeatedly refusing to express regret over a crime he did not commit, The Innocence Project saved Bozella from rotting in prison. The Innocence Project is a legal clinic that works to overturn wrongful convictions, and they were able to locate the police lieutenant who investigated Bozella’s case in the ’70s and ’80s. Fortunately, he had kept Bozella’s file which contained evidence that was never turned over to his lawyer. The evidence could have helped clear his name at the time of his trial. With the new evidence in place, Bozella was freed on Oct. 28, 2009.
Bozella boxed in what is known as the “Death House” during his time at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. There he became light-heavyweight champion and hoped to one day box professionally. On Saturday, his dream will become a reality. He is scheduled to fight on the undercard of light-heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins in Los Angeles.
After working with Hopkins’ trainers over the summer, Bozella was able to pass the California State Athletic Commission test on on Sept. 29 — about a month after he had tried to pass but failed. An appearance on the ESPY Awards in July led to the recognition he has received — which Dewey insists is not a motivating factor — and the offer to box professionally.
“You’ve seen the workout I went through, the pain, blood and bruises I’m getting,” Bozella said. “No one’s giving me nothing for free. I can go out there and get knocked out, or I can knock the other guy out. It’s that simple.”
Bozella is believed to be the oldest boxer to be licensed in California. His fight will be in the cruiserweight division against 30-year-old Larry Hopkins, who is 0-3 in his boxing career. We’ve seen a 60-year-old win a boxing fight, so we’re not discounting Bozella’s chances. Rocky Balboa was nothing more than a movie. Stories like that of Dewey Bozella remind us that, oftentimes, truth can be stranger and more inspiring than fiction.Google+