His name is Dewey Bozella and he just fought his very first professional boxing match on October 15, 2011. He won. Dewey Bozella is 52 years old.
Yes, my friend, that’s correct. At 52 years of age, Dewey Bozella finally had the chance to live his dream – the dream to be a professional boxer – the dream that kept him going for most of his life. You see, for 26 years, Dewey lived behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit. Several times he was offered a plea bargain. Freedom, if only he would say he was guilty.
According to Dewey, he would rather “rot in jail” than say he did it. More than once, he made the painful decision to refuse the plea. An innocent man in prison for 26 years. No stranger to pain. His father beat his pregnant mother to death when he was only nine years old, and two of his brothers were murdered on the streets of Brooklyn while he was just a teen. This man’s entire life was filled with pain.
Twenty-six years is nearly 10,000 days. All that time Dewey dreamt and worked for one thing: the day he would walk away from prison a free man, and have the chance to fight as a professional boxer. In 2009, justice was served and he did walk away free. He was exonerated of the crime after a quarter of a century spent trying to prove his innocence.
What a path to travel to achieve your dream! Just last month, Dewey Bozella fought Larry Hopkins on the undercard of a Bernard Hopkins (no relation to Larry Hopkins) fight. Dewey won by a unanimous decision and immediately afterward said, “I used to lay in my cell and dream about this day happening. It was all worth it. It is my dream come true. This is my first and last fight…I did what I wanted to do and I’m happy.” He fought. He won. And then he retired when his dream was realized.
My friend, what about you and your dreams? Likely, you aren’t in prison. Likely, you haven’t faced the battles Dewey faced. But each of us has walked a unique path to arrive where we are today. We’ve faced challenges and struggled through adversity. And now, more than ever, our dreams are so important because dreams do keep us alive. They empower and motivate us. They give us purpose and put meaning in every day and every action. Dewey Bozella got up each day for 26 years and lived with purpose. He never gave up and neither should you.
Let your dreams do their magic. Allow them to fuel your day, give you energy, and keep you focused. They’ll do all this and more. It doesn’t matter if it takes 6 months, 6 years, or 26 years to achieve, never give up. You’ve got to make your dreams come true.
Dewey Bozella is an amazing example of someone who very easily could have given up many times. Can you imagine nearly 10,000 days of wrongful imprisonment? He could have lived with rage. He could have lived with anger. He could have lived with hatred. He could have given up on any one of those 10,000 days. But that’s the thing that makes Dewey Bozella so special. He didn’t. Instead, he CHOSE to live with PURPOSE. He chose to DREAM.
What a great lesson this man is for all of us. Regardless of circumstance, hardships, turmoil, adversity, or situation, choose to keep fighting. Choose to keep persisting. Choose to keep believing. And always choose to keep DREAMING.
A little closing note about what’s next for Dewey who plans to open a gym to serve the youth in his community of Newburgh, NY. If I were a betting man, I’d bet he’d create maximum IMPACT and inspire thousands. Maybe one day, I’ll pay a visit to meet Dewey Bozella in his new gym. For now, check out ESPN’s feature story on Dewey.
Remember my friend, dreams can come true.