You think you've had a hard time following your dreams? You think you've suffered for your art? You don't know shit!
Dewey Bozella spent 26 years in jail for murder. Not only that but, he was innocent! Did he get a fair trial? No! Was the evidence enough to convict him? No! Was there any evidence at all? NO! Just the words of another felon who framed him.
You gotta watch the video I put at the top of the page. This is what it is to suffer! To have your dreams taken away. There's no hope in prison. Not when you're sent down for life, for a crime you didn't commit. That's exactly what an all-white jury did in 1983.
After six years inside, an appeal court ruled that the initial trial's jury selection was fraught with racism: all African Americans were barred from being on the jury. Well if that's not racism, I don't know what is! What are we meant to take from that; that black people can't tell right from wrong when a black man takes the stand? If you buy that, then you support the idea that there should be no white people whenever a white person is on the stand!
What do you do when you're in prison for your LIFETIME for a crime you didn't commit? You give up, you lose hope! That is unless you find SOMETHING. Dewey Bozella found it: Boxing.
My brother is obsessed with boxing. With me, it's writing and creativity. That's where I learn about discipline, hope, expression. But my bro gets it from boxing. It was him who demanded I watch this film. That's the thing, sure, boxing is brutal. But so is life! Why do you think they make so many movies about the sport? It's because all of life is contained within it! Anything you wanna achieve, boxing shows you how.
Dewey faced all the blocks that people face in movies, the kind of blocks that seem so unrealistic and forced --- but here we see how real they are! Racism, burned evidence, lawyers offering unethical deals. Everything!
Bozella stayed strong. He wrote to The Innocence Project once a week. Remember when Andy did that in 'Shawshank Redemption'? It worked here too. It took four years, but eventually they took up his case. That's when they found that all the evidence had been destroyed. But together with a team of lawyers and the unwavering love of his wife, Trena, they didn't give up fighting. Meanwhile, Dewey's attitude in the ring was exactly the same. In the Sing Sing Correctional Facility he became the light heavyweight champion. He had the talent, the strength, the determination; what would his life have been if he'd not had everything stripped away from him?
How many people give up after someone tells them their script sucks? Or that their acting 'needs some work'? This documentary reminds us - don't let the roadblocks stop you.
In October 2009, he was released. A free man.
Wow. 26 years for a crime you didn't commit. Can you imagine? Being labelled a murderer for all that time? Being stuck inside four walls for all of your adult life?
Incredibly, Bozella had the mental toughness to forgive the courts and lawyers who'd sent him away for so long.
That's coming from a guy who spent 26 years in jail. If that's not wisdom then I don't know what is. Forget your Marilyn Monroe quotes for a minute and listen to Dewey Bozella.
Physical freedom wasn't enough for him, he needed to see it in action. He had a dream to complete: to become a professional boxer. The problem is, you need to get a license first, and he was 52 years old. No-one over 50 had ever done it before. Give up? Quit? I think you know the answer.
But they turned him down. Said he was too slow in the sparring test, his reactions weren't quick enough. That's when he said the unthinkable, "It's over".
But his wife Trena Bozella would hear none of it. And that's what you need to succeed, a support system. Sure, his mental strength played a huge part, but his wife, his lawyers, the boxing trainers, they all factored in. You don't get nowhere on your own.
You want to see pain? You want to see someone who's seen how harsh life can be? Then make sure you get to the 29 minute mark on this documentary. The licensing committee have turned him down, his dreams crushed, AGAIN. An outside force, yet again --another jury-- telling him NO. Look at the pain, the anger, the passion, as he screams down the phone.
"It hurts, man, it hurts! You taken away my dream! You taken away the only thing I got left!"
THIS IS THE POINT WHERE EVERYONE GIVES UP. In fact, it's about 200 stages past where everyone gives up.
But of course no, he didn't. He didn't have quitting in him, and neither did Trena.
He went to Philadelphia to train with Bernard Hopkins, who'd also been in prison and went on to become a professional boxing champion. So Hopkins trained him. This is when Bozella REALLY learned what it was to be a boxer. And he only had ONE MONTH before he had to be back to re-try for his license.
"I thought I knew something about training. I found out -- please-- I was WAY OFF!"
That's another lesson for the amateurs. DON'T ASSUME YOU KNOW EVERYTHING! You know NOTHING! Keep training, keep learning, it takes so much more than you imagine. Bozella had been through EVERYTHING, and then, after all that, after 26 years of fighting the system - it was only now that he got the skill and nuance and fitness to really be what he was: a boxer.
He got his license. He had a professional fight. I don't want to give the whole story away, because this documentary deserves to be watched, and luckily the whole thing is on YouTube. You can see it at the top of this article.
Dewey Bozella shows us precisely what it takes to make it. And I'm pretty sure he's had it harder than you.