Wellington - Former world heavyweight boxing
champion Mike Tyson says he hopes to be granted a visa to visit New
Zealand in November but won't "cower and beg" immigration officials to
overlook his criminal convictions.
Tyson has been booked to make a
visit New Zealand and Australia in November on a motivational speaking
tour dubbed "The Day of Champions."
The New Zealand Immigration
Service has yet to decide whether it will grant a visa to Tyson who was
convicted of rape in 1992 and served three years of a six year sentence.
New Zealand law, anyone convicted of an offense which carries a prison
sentence of five years or longer will not get a visa, though discretion
is allowed in some cases.
Speaking to New Zealand reporters on Thursday in a video hookup from Las Vegas, Tyson was in a typically pugnacious mood.
"I'm not going to sit here and cower and beg to come to your country," Tyson said.
sorry, but if I can't come, I can't come. It will be my misfortune but I
don't want to feel like I'm on trial to come to your country.
"I've never been to New Zealand. I've never had the opportunity before. It must be a serious country if I can't go there."
promoter, Max Markson, told reporters "we've applied for the visa and
asked for a special direction from the minister, so we're waiting
patiently for a visa."
Markson said Tyson's facial tatoo is based
on the traditional artworks of New Zealand's indigenous Maori and could
be classified as "an honorary New Zealander."
"He's a great
ambassador and he really does have a tremendous story which he has to
tell to the people of New Zealand and it would be a tragedy if the show
that he's been doing on Broadway for the last few weeks can't be told,"
"He's not a danger to New Zealand, he'll be there for one day."
a statement, the New Zealand Immigration Service said Tyson's visa
application would be considered under the same rules as any other.
"Mike Tyson will have to apply for a visa to enter New Zealand and make full disclosure of his previous convictions," it said.
is never a guarantee that any visa application will be approved. All
visa applications are considered on their individual circumstances."
The 46-year-old Tyson used to proclaim himself the "baddest man on the planet", but no longer.
"Those days are over man," he said. "I left that for the other guys."