Mike Tyson Banned From Entering New Zealand
Women's anti-violence groups joined a chorus of outrage over the decision and in a dramatic about-turn Kate Wilkinson, the Associate Immigration Minister, announced on Wednesday that she had revoked Tyson's visa.
Tyson, 46, was sentenced to six years in jail in 1992 for the rape of 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room.
New Zealand law forbids entry to anyone who has served five or more years in prison, unless a special waiver is granted. The boxer had been booked to stage his one-man show "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" as the headline act during the high-profile conference of motivational speakers.
Pivotal to Ms Wilkinson's original approval for his visit had been a letter of sponsorship From a leading health and drug education charity. Explaining her change of heart, she said: "Yesterday evening the Life Education Trust contacted my office and asked for that letter to be withdrawn, making it clear that the trust no longer wants to have any involvement with Mr Tyson's visit."
John O'Connell, the trust's chief executive, said the letter of support had been sent by a well-meaning volunteer without officials' knowledge. "We are not really withdrawing the letter of support, we didn't know we had done it," he said.
The decision to bar Tyson comes days after John Key, the Prime Minister, said he was personally opposed to his being allowed into New Zealand. Tyson had appeared to cock a snook at Mr Key's stance, responding at the time: "Fortunately, I am coming to New Zealand and there’s nothing they can do about it and I’m so sorry, I’m sorry they feel disappointed and I’m just living my life."
In an interview with Television New Zealand, the boxer took offence at a question about his rape conviction.
During a live broadcast, he launched into an expletive, saying:"I didn't do the crime, I was set up, I don't care what people say.
"I didn't do that ----ing crime," he said. Tyson, who now sports a Maori-inspired facial tattoo, shot to world fame with his ferocious boxing style, in 1988 sensationally knocking out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds.
A controversial figure, he bit off part of the ear of Evander Holyfield during a bout in 1997.
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