08 October 2012

Tyson hits back in NZ visa row

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Mike Tyson has hit back in the ongoing row which has seen the former boxer granted then denied a New Zealand visa for his motivational speaking tour.

New Zealand visa

Mike Tyson says his struggle to secure a New Zealand visa is not a fair fight.

Tyson was supposed to speak in Auckland next month as part of the Day of the Champions tour. His visit was originally sponsored by the Life's Education Trust children's charity, however, their sponsorship was suddenly revoked, and his New Zealand visa along with it.

The decision to grant the former heavyweight champion a visa was controversial in the first place due to his 1992 conviction for rape. Current New Zealand immigration policy prevents anyone who has been imprisoned for five years or more from receiving a visa; Tyson was sentenced to six years but was released after three.

"The original decision to grant a [visa] to Mr Tyson was a finely balanced call and a letter of support from the Life Education Trust, that would have been a benefactor from the visit, was a significant factor in approving the application," said Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson.

"Yesterday evening the Life Education Trust contacted my office and asked for that letter to be withdrawn, making it clear that the Trust no longer wants to have any involvement with Mr Tyson's visit.

"Given that the Trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa to enter New Zealand for the Day of the Champions event."

Tyson's promoter has consistently stated their intention to secure a visa for the controversial star's visit and now Tyson himself has come out and said the whole ordeal has 'not been a fair fight'.

"I just wanted to go down there and just have a show," said Tyson. "Unfortunately that had to happen - it's one of those things in life that happens, it's life on life's terms and everyone has to deal with that and those uncertainties.

"The people wanted me to come. If it was a fair organisation, a fair fight I would be there but I got vetoed by the higher power."

Another charity organisation, the Urban Maori Authority, has since announced it will support Tyson's visa application if the former prize-fighter is willing to visit a deprived area of South Auckland and speak to troubled youths.

"We're looking for some motivation from Tyson, someone who we look at who's perhaps turned his life around," said Willie Jackson of the Urban Maori Authority.

"We want him to turn around the lives of some of the people we work with in South Auckland."

Tyson has a well publicised battle with drug dependencies, legal issues and bankruptcy. However, his talks are focussed on his attempts to reform his life and his facial tattoo is even said to be inspired by Maori heritage.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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