Former heavyweight boxing champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson has had his visa to visit New Zealand cancelled.
Tyson was due here in November to stage his one-man show "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" in Auckland.
Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson today said the visa had been cancelled after his sponsor withdrew its support.
The visa was originally granted on a "marginal call" under a special direction following a letter of support from the Life Education Trust which would have been a benefactor from the visit.
Wilkinson said the letter was a significant factor in approving Tyson's application.
"Yesterday evening the Life Education Trust contacted my office and asked for that letter to be withdrawn, making it clear that the trust no longer wants to have any involvement with Mr Tyson's visit.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."
Prime Minister John Key yesterday called the initial decision to give Tyson a visa a "marginal call" and expressed his disproval of accolades for those who have convictions for violence against women.
Women's Refuge said the decision was "bizarre" because New Zealanders with rape convictions would not be allowed into the United States.
Life Education Trust chief executive John O'Connell said the organisation only became aware yesterday of the letter, which was written by a well-meaning volunteer.
The promoter of Tyson's show had asked Life Education in August whether it wanted to be a charity recipient for the show but its board had turned down the offer.
"We are a charity that works with children and their self-esteem and relationships with others. Clearly there is a brand values disconnect, we believed, between being involved with Mr Tyson.
"Certainly the rape conviction was the key thing."
Its decision was conveyed to the promoter but one of Life Education's 300 volunteers accepted the offer as part of local fundraising and wrote the letter of support.
"We are not really withdrawing the letter of support, we didn't know we had done it."
The organisation was now reviewing its internal processes to see how the mistake occurred, he said.
Tyson spent three years in jail after being convicted in 1992 for raping 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. The 46-year-old continues to deny the crime.
He is a controversial figure who is also known for biting the ear of fellow boxer Evander Holyfield during a bout in 1997.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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