Visa for Mike Tyson is revoked

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson

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Former boxer Mike Tyson's visa application to enter New Zealand has been cancelled.

Associate Minister of Immigration Kate Wilkinson decided to deny Tyson entry to New Zealand after it emerged a letter in support of his visit from a charity was sent in error.

Tyson, who has prior convictions for rape and assault, was due to headline a motivational speaking night in Auckland in November.

Life Education Trust NZ, which provides educational resources for over 200,000 children a year, says it was approached in August by the event's promoters.

Chief executive John O'Connell says they were offered the chance to be the beneficiary of a charity auction associated with the event.

"The promoter came to us, the board discussed it, we made a decision to decline it, and I advised the promoter of that, that same day" Mr O'Connell told 3 News.

Yesterday the trust discovered a letter of support had been sent to Immigration on behalf of the organisation by one of their volunteers.

"They had sought the opportunity for one of our local trusts as part of their fundraising activity," says Mr O'Connell.
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As a result, Tyson's visa was approved after Ms Kate Wilkinson granted a 'special direction', meaning his convictions did not matter.

Under New Zealand law, a person with a prior conviction with a sentence of five or more years in prison cannot be granted a visa without a special direction from the Minister of Immigration or Associate Minister.

Mr O'Connell said there is no way Life Education Trust would back the notorious former heavyweight champion, who was once disqualified for biting an opponent's ear.

"What I have at the moment is someone saying, 'You did,' and I'm going, 'Well, no, we didn't.' I think I know what I did and didn't do... Like anything, you always see if your brand fits, and that's not something we wanted our organisation involved with."

Mr O'Connell says Immigration sent him an email apologising for the mistake yesterday afternoon.

"This is a matter which the Life Education Trust takes very seriously and we have worked with Immigration officials to have the letter of support withdrawn," says Mr O'Connell.

"We are now undertaking our own internal process to address what has transpired."

Yesterday Prime Minister John Key said allowing Tyson into New Zealand was a "line-ball call".

Tyson responded by saying: "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 has a Maori-inspired tattoo on his face, but has never been to New Zealand before. Tickets for his show cost up to $395.

3 News

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