NZ revokes Mike Tyson's visa

2012-10-03 07:23

Wellington - In a reversal, New Zealand authorities on Wednesday barred Mike Tyson from entering the country whose indigenous Maori people Tyson says inspired his facial tattoo.

And a speaking tour for the former heavyweight boxing champion was threatening to fall apart altogether as Australian immigration authorities said they've yet to decide whether to allow him into that country. Tickets for appearances in New Zealand and five major Australian cities in November are still being promoted by a Sydney agency.

Tyson's 1992 rape conviction would normally prevent his entry in New Zealand and could be grounds for denial in Australia as well. He had been granted an exemption for New Zealand before that visa was cancelled on Wednesday, days after the Prime Minister spoke out against the visit.

Tyson was to speak at a November event in Auckland, the "Day of the Champions," which is being promoted by Sydney agency Markson Sparks!

New Zealand's Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson said she'd initially granted entry because a children's health charity would get some of the proceeds from Tyson's speech. She said in a statement her decision was "a finely balanced call" but that the charity that would have benefited, the Life Education Trust, withdrew its support on Tuesday.

"Given that the trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa," Wilkinson wrote in her statement.

The charity's chief executive, John O'Connell, however, said the charity long ago decided not to accept any money from the event due to its concerns over Tyson's character, but that a volunteer trustee had mistakenly sent a letter to immigration authorities supporting Tyson's plans.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship said "I can tell you that a decision is still pending" on Tyson's application for an Australian visa.

Tyson's criminal history could prevent him from obtaining an Australian visa. Would-be visitors normally must pass a character test. Those with a "substantial criminal record" - which by the immigration department's definition includes people who, like Tyson, have been sentenced to more than a year in prison - would fail the test. But the department can still use its discretion to grant a visa.

Markson Sparks! has been advertising tickets for Tyson's Australian appearances at between A$69 and A$300.

Colorful promoter Max Markson said he'd been "hoping it might be a smoother run with Mike Tyson" but that he remained confident Australia would grant Tyson a visa and that New Zealand would reverse its decision when he found another suitable charity.

"He'll only be in the country for 20 hours, I don't think he's a danger to anybody, and thousands of people want to see him," Markson said of Tyson's planned New Zealand leg.

Markson said he's continuing to sell tickets to the planned speeches in both countries and that buyers will get a full refund if the shows are cancelled. He said he had immigration lawyers in Australia, New Zealand and the US working on the case.

Speaking to the APNZ news agency this week from Las Vegas before his New Zealand visa was cancelled, Tyson said his tattoo was inspired by those worn by New Zealand's indigenous Maori. In pre-European times, many Maori wore elaborate facial tattoos as a sign of their status in their tribe. Some Maori today who identify strongly with their traditional culture get similar tattoos.

Tyson told the agency that, aside from their tattoos, he knew little about the Maori people "so I'm looking forward to come down there and see them."

Prime Minister John Key spoke to media against the planned visit this week, questioning the decision by immigration authorities and saying he personally disapproved of the visit given Tyson's conviction for such a serious crime.

Before his visa was cancelled, Tyson told APNZ: "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."

Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison for the 1991 rape of 18-year-old Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. He served three years before being released on parole.


  • Lyndatjie - 2012-10-03 07:37

    Much different from our Visa requirements... here it appears that you MUST have a criminal record in order to get access.... :(

  • Mbavhalelo - 2012-10-03 07:45

    This ppl are God? I thought even God 4give sin

      phillip.vaneeden - 2012-10-03 20:07

      Mbavhalelo, this is something you will not understand due to your culture, this is what you call Law and order!!!!

  • andre.schutte.319 - 2012-10-03 07:49

    So you make a mistake in life. You go to jail as punishment for your mistake. You pay for your mistake and you learn from it. At what stage would NZ actually think that they can stop punishing you for your mistake. What is the use of jail then if your punishment will continue forever. Disgrace NZ. Not only talking about Mike but in general. This rule is for everyone.

      skhona.luswazi - 2012-10-03 08:24

      I bet they not christains in Christ we forgive,we forget and we move on

      andre.schutte.319 - 2012-10-03 08:56

      So true skhona.

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-03 10:12

      Most "western countries" don't allow any entry for convicted criminals, that is why some South African apartheid activists also had problems entering the USA.

      warrenh2 - 2012-10-03 11:10

      phillip.vaneeden - 2012-10-03 21:07

      Well then I figure Life is simple, So I can Go and kill and rape and do what ever I want, then I ask for forgiveness, and abracadabra everything is forgiven, no wonder the country is in the state it is. EVERY one knows the difference between right and wrong especially when it is simple choices like this. You call it common sense! Maybe this is acceptable in the African way. Please do not entertain yourself's with miss perception. but then again no point in arguing with an idiot as they will bring you down to your level at beat you with experience!!

  • philhaj - 2012-10-03 08:19

    i dont think it would have been a problem with a white pop star and whats the use of having correctional departments if people will be branded for life?did they banned televising his fights too?

      DuToitCoetzee - 2012-10-03 08:51

      So in other words you think that was why Michael Jackson made himself white? lol. I believe NZ could have allowed Big Mike. He paid for his deed.

  • Adil Smit - 2012-10-03 10:03

    Some countries take violent crimes seriously -good for them. Now Nieu-Zealand can address the wrongs against the Aborigines.

  • phillip.vaneeden - 2012-10-03 20:23

    Well by reading a few of this comments, it is clear that the the majority of people are so used to adopting to a life of criminal activity surroundings, that they see this type of behavior as normal, countries with law and order like Aust and New Zeeland takes any crime activity extremely serious. Especially when it comes to Celebs and famous people with a criminal history as they create a wrong picture for young society. there have been a few stars Celebs refused into the county, only due to the fact that they are under the influence of drugs. South Africa is in hot water. what I mean by that is, If you take a frog and sit it in cold water on a plate, slowly you heat up the water, obviously the frog adapts till a certain point where it dies with out realizing, where as you had put in straight in hot water, it would've burned but survived. It is a shame that so many people see this as "nothing wrong with" and Adil what does this have to do with the aboriginal. And to be honest I would not even allow a criminal in my house especially a child molester neither a rapist!!!

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