Bozella spent 26 years in prison
for a crime he didn't commit
By Steev Riccardo
Dudley - Nichols College students and guests heard a speaker last Wednesday at the Daniels Auditorium who was unlike any other they had probably ever heard before.
Dewey Bozella spent 26 years, half his life, in prison, after being convicted in 1983 for the murder of an elderly woman, having been framed for a crime he did not commit. It wasn’t until 2009 that the conviction was finally overturned, and Bozella was freed from prison.
Upon his release he began training for a professional boxing match at the unlikely age of 52, and with the help of professional boxer Bernard Hopkins, his dream came true.
On October 15, 2011, he boxed Larry Hopkins on the undercard of a Hopkins fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, a bout in which he won a unanimous decision. Bozella even received a phone call from President Barack Obama before the bout, wishing him luck.
The boxing match resulted in ESPN awarding him the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award and his life being chronicled at the annual ESPY Awards in Los Angeles last year.
Bozella grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and had an extremely difficult childhood. When he was nine he and his brothers and sisters witnessed his father killing his mother. The last time he saw his mother, she was being put in an ambulance.
He said during his speech that his “life took a complete turn after that.” He was moved around from foster and group homes for the next several years. He ended up running away from these homes over and over again.
In the tenth grade he started hanging out with the wrong crowd trying “to be accepted” and ending up “doing drugs and drinking,” and eventually dropped out of high school. He got in a fight and beat another kid up who ended up taking revenge on one of his brothers, stabbing him to death. It was clear that things were not going his way.
In 1977, when he was 18 years old, a 92-year-old woman was murdered in Poughkeepsie, New York, and acquaintances of Bozella’s told the police that he had committed the crime. At first he was not arrested due to lack of evidence, but six years later, in 1983, he was charged with the crime and sentenced to 20 years-to-life in prison.
On at least three different occasions, he could have admitted that he did the crime and been freed by the parole board but refused to do so and wasn’t released until 2009 when new evidence was found. He had sought out the help of the Innocence Project, who convinced the law firm of Wilmer & Hale to take on his case. They were able to prove that Bozella was innocent when they uncovered additional evidence.
Bozella has chosen to take his story to the people and gives lectures to groups such as the one which heard him speak on Wednesday night. His hour-long speech was basically his entire story, how he turned to boxing and taking classes to the point where he had earned a masters degree from New York Theological Seminary while in prison.
He spoke of fear, commitment, persistence, forgiveness, determination, his struggle, and conflict, and ultimately the hope and faith that allowed him to stay alive in prison and find his freedom.
It was no surprise that he received a standing ovation when he was done; that is the least he has earned.
- Wednesday, 04 April 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News