If he chose to, you couldn't hold it against Yathomas Riley if he succumbed to the natural temptation to be angry, to hold a sharp grudge against The Man. Riley, age 30, spent two years locked up in Florida for a crime, it was determined after that long spell, that he did not commit.
A southpaw light heavyweight, the Florida resident will step into the ring and fight on Saturday night at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, Long Island, for the first time since 2010, for the first time since his life was viciously turned upside down, shaken and changed, irrevocably.
He was released from the Miami-Dade Pre-Trial Detention Center on Aug. 17, 2012 after authorities decided not to proceed with a charge of attempted murder, stemming from a situation involving an on-again, off-again girlfriend named Koketia King.
On June 10, 2010, Riley called the police, and said King had shot herself. In the hospital, King claimed Riley shot her three times. Riley denied this, said they had had a verbal tiff earlier, and that King pulled a gun out of her purse and shot herself. He was locked up and, he says, authorities didn't vigorously pursue leads that would prove King was involved in identity theft and tax fraud. After two years, King confessed to the theft-fraud scheme; her reliability in the shooting incident was now in doubt. That whole time, Riley was locked up, in jail without bond, stewing. He was overjoyed when the state dropped all charges. (Many fight fans, especially those Gen X and older, will recall another boxer who gained attention for doing time for a crime he denies he committed, and there was ample evidence to bolster his claim.)
I did a Q 'n A with Riley ahead of his fight with 13-2 Lionell Thompson.
Q. How has freedom tasted, since you got released?
It feels good, I feel happy to get on with my life and career.
What have been the best parts of getting out? And the worst?
The best part is being with family, the worst part is trying to catch up with everything, friends and family. I don't want to be labeled a killer for a crime I didn't commit.
Do you harbor anger and resentment against the system which locked you up? Are you suing the state?
I have anger but I am more disappointed at how they handled the situation, just kept up with the same lies. The justice system handled this very badly. I have an ongoing lawsuit with the state of Florida.
Do you believe that you left some of your best years as an athlete in jail?
Only God knows.
Do you feel like you have to make up for lost time?
Yes and I want to get back in the mix right away and see where I'm at. There is no reason for a tune-up, I want a real fight.
Are you the same athlete physically as you were before you were jailed? Mentally?
I'll find out on Saturday. I'm very anxious to get back in the ring.