A Wairapapa teacher is claiming victory after her complaint to charity sponsor Life Education Trust resulted in the visa of former heavyweight champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson being cancelled.
Julianna Venning, who is also a social worker and political lobbyist, became concerned about Tyson's upcoming visit and began looking into his background.
She discovered he had also been jailed in 1999 for assaulting two motorists in Maryland and believed he was far from reformed. "He has an anger management problem and that is putting it mildly."
Prime Minister John Key said earlier this week Tyson was initially granted a visa under a special direction because his rape conviction and six-year sentence was 20 years ago and he was going to be in New Zealand just 20 hours.
Tyson is considered one of the most successful boxers of all time but is a controversial figure who is also known for biting the ear of fellow boxer Evander Holyfield during a bout in 1997.
Venning today said she contacted Immigration New Zealand when she heard Tyson was coming to New Zealand.
She was told Tyson was automatically barred because he been sentenced to more than five years jail but had been given a special waiver because he was donating some of the profits from his Auckland show to the Life Education Trust.
Venning then contacted the head office of the Life Education Trust who was unaware of a letter had been written by a well-meaning Auckland volunteer despite the Trust's board turning down the promoter's offer in August, because of concern about Tyson's rape conviction.
Life Trust then pulled its letter of support, prompting the Government to cancel his visa.
"There is no way we need him as a role model for children," Venning said. "It would offend every single woman who has ever been sexually abused, raped, assaulted or even threatened verbally by her partner. It would send a really bad message to kids that it's perfectly alright to do what you like to women and get away with it."
Tyson's Day of the Champions at Vector Arena is scheduled for November 15 but his Australian-based promoter Max Markson says he will reapply for his visa.
He had toured 15 other countries including Switzerland without any problem.
"We are still selling tickets. I still hope to bring him to New Zealand."
It would be "tragedy" if his fans couldn't hear his "inspirational" story, Markson said.
Tyson was a changed man from 20 years ago. "He's now a vegan, sober. He's almost a walking ambassador for New Zealand when you look at the tattoo on his face."
While Tyson maintained his innocence, he had served three years of his sentence before being released on good behaviour.
"There's a lot worse people walking the streets of New Zealand than Mike Tyson."
Immigration NZ said Tyson could not appeal the decision but could reapply for a visa at any time. "But any change in circumstances since the original application was lodged will be taken into account."
Labour's immigration spokeswoman Darien Fenton said the minister's sudden "flip-flop" over Tyson's visa was "sloppy and embarrassing".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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