Dewey Bozella

Arthur Ashe Courage Award Acceptance Speech

delivered 13 July 2011, Los Angeles, CA


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Thank you. Thank you, so very much. Good evening.

The late, great legendary boxing trainer Cus D'Amato spoke about fear. He said, "The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, and projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs."

This is a metaphor for all of us: Never let fear determine who you are. Never let where you come from determine where you are going.

When I discovered this quote in the early days of my imprisonment, it truly inspired me. I memorized it. Everyday I had to [ask] myself, "How do I survive this nightmare, Sing Sing?" -- a place where hate and anger are the order of the day? I didn't merely want to survive -- I wanted to thrive.

Boxing awakened me. I felt free during my workout[s] for the first time. I was no longer a prisoner. My vision became clear: I vowed to save children -- to teach them boxing and share my story. Hopefully, I could save others.

My purpose now is to help all children understand how truly valuable life is. It took close to 32 years of battling to get where I am today. And by no means is the struggle over.

My dream is to open my own gym and teach boys and girls the discipline of boxing. My dream now is more urgent than ever. The gym I've been training at in Newburgh, New York, has just been closed. Now, the kids who I worked out with every week in this gym have nowhere to go.

I, too, seemingly had nowhere to go and no one to be with.

Now, look at this.

My dear wife, Trina, and our daughter, Diamond -- I thank you, for your [un]dying love and support.


Thank you also, Alan Thomas -- a man who has been a father-figure in my life for so many years.

To all the lawyers involved in my case -- the WilmerHale a law firm and the Innocence Project -- thank you. Thank you for believing in me and for your steadfast commitment to uncovering the truth. Thank you for your dedication and belief in me, and most of all for making me a free man.

Lastly, but not least, thank you to ESPN for honoring me with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. I am humbled and overwhelmed with joy.

Thank you. And may God bless you all. Good night.

Matthew McConaughey narrates ESPN's astonishing expose on Dewey Bozella.

Also in this database: Jim Valvano delivers ESPY Award Acceptance Address

Page Updated: 12/30/23

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