We should give Mike Tyson a chance

WILLIE JACKSON
Last updated 05:00 05/10/2012

After hearing that Mike Tyson's visa had been withdrawn I thought it would be an ideal opportunity for my organisation the Manukau Urban Maori Authority to get behind trying to get Tyson into the country.

I've been talking to the promoter and told him that I believed that a visit by Tyson to South Auckland would do wonders for the morale and spirit of our youth and our people.

Unlike many in mainstream media, I see Tyson as a champion who would be an inspiration for our people in South Auckland.

He was the greatest boxer in the world, the self-proclaimed "baddest man on the planet" - a convicted rapist, cocaine addict and hated by so many in the establishment.

But Tyson turned his life around and has gone on to become a great motivational speaker and entertainer.

During the past five years he has travelled the world and inspired thousands of people, many of whom have faced turmoil and devastation in their lives like him.

I couldn't believe that his visa was revoked because he has been accepted into many countries for example England, Canada, France, Italy... without any problems and for good reasons he's been treated like a hero.

If he comes to New Zealand, he will be travelling with his wife, mother-in-law and two children and be here for only 20 hours.

That's hardly any time to create mayhem and havoc in our society. So anyone who thinks that he will is plain stupid.

I wonder sometimes about redemption because our organisation is built on redemption.

For many years we have worked with Maori at the frontline, always trying to turn their lives around for them and their families.

Our marae Nga Whare Waatea in Mangere was set up by my mother Dame June Jackson and Mum put some of the worst criminals in the country on our marae in her efforts to rehabilitate them. She wasn't always successful but Mum never stopped trying.

She always had hope that people could change and she said there's only a small percentage of people who couldn't change.

Mum was the longest serving Parole Board member in the country, serving 20 years, and our marae and organisation are obliged to continue the work that she started.

We are advocates of Whanau Ora and run programmes that deal with domestic violence, teenage mothers, tikanga Maori, youth mentoring in schools, trade training, restorative justice, etc.

All of our programmes are designed to turn around people's lives and we always use role models.

I can think of no-one better than Mike Tyson as an example for Maori to change their lives.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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