President Barack Obama called Dewey Bozella on Thursday to wish him luck in Saturday night's cruiserweight bout with Larry Hopkins in Los Angeles, The Ring reported.
The 52-year-old, who was released from prison in 2009 after serving 26 years for a murder he did not commit, will make his professional boxing debut at the Staples Center on the undercard of light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins' defense against Chad Dawson.
"I was so humbled and overwhelmed at the president's call," Bozella told The Ring. "It brought tears to my eyes. I thanked him for taking an interest in my story. Wow. There is a lot riding on this fight now,"
"This is just getting bigger. President Obama told me that he was rooting for me. I would love to meet him in person someday."
Bozella caught the eye of Golden Boy Promotions, which is promoting the Oct. 15 card, after his life was chronicled in July on ESPN's annual ESPY Award show. Bozella was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on the show.
Bozella, who boxed as an amateur and while he was in an upstate New York prison, dreamed of fighting professionally while he was incarcerated. He has been training with Bernard Hopkins and will compete in a four-round cruiserweight contest against an opponent to be determined.
In 1983, Bozella was convicted of the 1977 murder of a 92-year-old woman in her Poughkeepsie, N.Y., home. He was accused of binding her with electrical cord and stuffing 5 feet of cloth down her throat with a tool resembling a chisel until she suffocated. There was no physical evidence of Bozella being in her home and he had been bicycling by himself miles away, but was arrested and ultimately convicted.
Eventually, the case against him was overturned when witnesses against Bozella recanted their stories.