Dewey Bozella: A remarkable ‘Real Life’ story

Updated: November 18, 2011

No Irish sports fan – indeed no Irish person – should miss what promises to be one of the year’s most interesting TV interviews when 52 years old Dewey Bozella, a fighter who spent half his life in prison,for a crime he did not commit, appears on this Sunday’s ‘iTalkSport’ show on Setanta Sports Ireland at 11.30 am (repeated at 21.40 on Sunday night.

Bozella will be joining co-presenters Eoin McDevitt & Paul Kimmage live in studio from 11:30am – 1pm. So who is Dewey Bozella and why should the nation watch this interview?

Having witnessed his father beat his pregnant mother to death as a young boy, Bozella faced a life of hardship and turmoil . His youth was spent mainly in foster care his youth until he ‘discovered’ boxing. His fellow fighters at Floyd Patterson’s camp recall a young man of great promise and he himself decided to move from Brooklyn to make a life for himself in New York and aim for the top in boxing He was a talented young fighter who is simplistic terms was ‘determined to be a good man’.

As will undoubtedly be revealed in his Setanta interview in 1983, Bozella’s life took a dramatic turn when he was convicted of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to 20 years to life in Sing Sing prison, Bozella maintained his innocence and exhausted every appeal. He was offered more than four separate chances for an early release if he would only admit guilt and show remorse, but Bozella consistently refused to accept freedom under such conditions. Anger at his imprisonment gave way to determination and instead of becoming embittered, he became a model prisoner: earning his GED, bachelors and masters degrees; working as a counsellor for other prisoners; and eventually even falling in love and getting married. Through it all, Bozella found strength and purpose through boxing, becoming the light heavyweight champion of Sing Sing Prison.


Unyielding in his innocence, Bozella never gave up fighting in or out of the ring. He wrote to the highly respected “Innocence Project” daily in his quest for a ray of hope. The law firm WilmerHale eventually took on Bozella’s case and uncovered new evidence that exonerated him. After being in prison more than 26 years, he was finally released in October 2009.

Today, Bozella devotes his life to helping others, working with a non-profit that helps recently released prisoners rehabilitate back into the world. Bozella has created his own foundation dedicated to fulfilling his lifelong dream – helping kids avoid the mistakes he has made, through the sport of boxing. Funds raised by the foundation will be used to create a boxing gym where Dewey will work with kids in the struggling upstate city of Newburgh, New York.

It was from this background that on July 13th this year , Bozella became one of a ‘special few’ who have been honoured in the ESPY awards where he was a proud recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award – he is in ‘good company’ here with personalities like Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Cathy Freeman,and Ireland’s Trevor Ringland and David Cullen as well as Nelson Mandela.

Would you like to put any questions to Dewey Bozella? If so you could tweet the show @i_TalkSport or email

But let me not spoil what promises to be one of the finest interviews this year. Bozella will undoubtedly be asked about his ‘comeback’ at 52 in the world of professional boxing when in October he fought Larry Hopkins on the undercard of the World Pro fight involving Bernard Hopkins. Insofar as the murder charge and imprisonment is concerned, here you can find the transcript of Judge Rooney’s “summing up” which led to the release of Bozella. Truly one of the most heartbreaking stories to emerge in this or any other year . And yet this courageous man is not bitter …. truly a ‘Saint’.

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