Boxer who was wrongly imprisoned for 26 years fights first match

Liz Goodwin

A 52-year-old boxer wrongly imprisoned for 26 years is fighting his first professional match on Saturday.

Dewey Bozella was convicted of the grisly murder of a 92-year-old New York woman in 1977 on the testimony of two convicted criminals. Since he insisted he was innocent, Bozella refused to admit any remorse over the crime--a gesture that would have secured his earlier release from jail.

It wasn't until the nonprofit Innocence Project intervened and turned over evidence that had been suppressed during Bozella's trial that he was finally freed in 2009. Another man's fingerprint was found at the scene of the crime. That man was later convicted of murdering an elderly woman in a similar way.

Bozella received his bachelor's degree while at Sing Sing, and became its light-heavyweight boxing champion before the gym closed, the New York Times reports.

This Saturday, he will face off against 30-year-old Larry Hopkins. Bozella is believed to be the oldest man to ever box in California.

His journey to the ring hasn't been easy. He failed the first time he tried to get licensed by the California State Athletic Commission. The second time around, he passed the test, with the help of mentors Oscar de la Hoya and Bernard Hopkins.

"I'm not looking for sympathy, just to be looked as a man on the mission; a man who never gave up, and because of that, his dream is now coming true," he told Boxing Scene.

After the fight, he wants to return to his home town of Poughkeepsie and start a boxing gym for young people. The New York gym where he had been training shut down recently, and Bozella is still raising funds to open his own.

You can watch more on his story below:

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