US & Canada

Man wrongly convicted of murder makes boxing debut

Dewey Bozella (left) versus Larry Hopkins
Image caption President Obama rang Bozella (left) last week to wish him luck

A man who spent 26 years in jail for a murder he did not commit has fulfilled his dream by making his professional boxing debut and winning.

Dewey Bozella, now 52, became a prison boxing champion while in New York state's Sing Sing jail.

He was freed in 2009 after his conviction for the the murder of 92-year-old Emma Crapser was overturned.

"I used to lay in my cell and dream about this happening...It was my dream come true," he said after the fight.

Bozella made his debut on the undercard of a world title fight between world light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson in Los Angeles.

Obama phone call

On Thursday President Barack Obama called to wish him luck in his fight with 30-year-old Larry Hopkins, no relation to the champion.

In 1983 Bozella was sentenced to 20 years to life for the murder.

While inside he not only honed his skills as a boxer but also earned two college degrees.

His case was finally taken up by two young New York lawyers, who discovered evidence that several witnesses had lied at his original trial and another man had confessed to the murder.

After being released Bozella said he dreamed of getting the chance to fight just one time as a professional boxer.

Golden Boy Promotions, run by former champion Oscar De La Hoya, agreed to put his bout with Hopkins on the undercard at the 20,000 capacity Staples Center.

Image caption Bozella says he plans to go back to his home town and set up a boxing gym

When the judges announced he had won a unanimous decision the crowd stood and cheered.

Bozella plans to head back to the town of Newburgh, 60 miles (90km) from New York, and set up a boxing gym.

"I'd like to see kids who are on the street have something productive to do. No more fighting for me," he said.

In the main event Hopkins, himself no spring chicken at 46, lost his title after injuring his shoulder in the second round.

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