Through all the 26 years that Dewey Bozella languished in federal prison for a murder he did not commit, he nurtured a dream. He yearned one day to indulge his passion for boxing by competing in a professional fight as a free man – and preferably winning.
On Saturday, Mr Bozella, 52, who was exonerated and released from Sing Sing prison in New York State in 2009, entered the ring at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles to take on 30-year-old Larry Hopkins. After a sluggish start he defeated his opponent in five rounds.
Mr Bozella was sentenced to 20 years to life in 1983 for the murder of 92-year-old Emma Crapser. It took a quarter of a century for prosecutors to acknowledge his innocence after discovering that witnesses had lied at his trial.
"Don't ever give up," is Mr Bozella's motto. He now hopes to open a boxing gym. "This is a young man's game," he said after Saturday's fight. "I did what I came to do. I appreciate what everyone did for me. This was one of the greatest moments of my life."