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Boxing | International

Aussies may also block Tyson

New Zealand authorities have reversed a decision to grant Mike Tyson a visa to visit the country.

And a decision about Tyson's application to be allowed into Australia is still "pending'.

New Zealand cancelled an entry visa for the former heavyweight champion and convicted rapist on Wednesday after the prime minister had spoken out against his planned visit.

Tyson had earlier been granted an exemption to New Zealand immigration rules to speak at a November charity event, Day of the Champions. His rape conviction in 1992 would have normally made him ineligible to enter the country.

New Zealand's associate immigration minister, Kate Wilkinson, said she had initially granted Tyson entry because a children's health charity would get some of the proceeds from his speech.

Her decision was "a finely balanced call" but the charity that would have benefited, the Life Education Trust, withdrew its support Tuesday.

However, the charity's chief executive, John O'Connell, said they had decided long ago not to accept any money from the event because of concerns over Tyson's character.

O'Connell said a volunteer trustee had mistakenly sent a letter to immigration authorities supporting Tyson's plans.

Tyson was to speak in Auckland in November and at events in five Australian cities. Promoter Max Markson said on Wednesday he would continue to sell tickets at between 69 and 300 Australian dollars (R595 and R2 587) and would refund the money if Tyson could not appear.

He remained confident that 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.

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


A spokesman for Australia's department of immigration and citizenship said a decision was still pending on Tyson's application.

Would-be visitors to Australia must normally pass a character test. Those who have a "substantial criminal record" – including those who were sentenced to more than a year in prison – fail the test.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key spoke out against Tyson's planned visit earlier this week, questioning the decision by immigration authorities and saying he personally disapproved.

Key said on Tuesday the decision by immigration officials to award Tyson a visa to enter New Zealand was a "line call," given his criminal convictions.

Key said Tyson's visa application was approved on a "line call" because his conviction was 20 years ago and he would be in New Zealand "for about 20 hours."

"It's a marginal call and there are always issues that have to be reflected," Key said.

Before his visa was cancelled, Tyson said: "Fortunately, I am coming to New Zealand and there's nothing they can do about it. I'm sorry they feel disappointed and I'm just living my life."


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