Mike Tyson hopes New Zealand authorities grant him a visa, but the reformed boxer won't "plead and beg" for entry.
A very animated Tyson held a press conference today from Las Vegas to talk about his speaking tour of New Zealand and Australia in November.
The former heavy weight champion, who won 50 of his 58 fights, 44 of them by knockout, was convicted of rape in 1992. He served three years of his six-year sentence.
There are concerns that charge may prevent him entering New Zealand for the first time to speak in Auckland.
"I've never been to New Zealand. I've never had the opportunity before," Tyson said today. "It must be a serious country if I can't go there.
"If I don't come it is unfortunate. I'm not going to sit here and plead and beg to come to your country. If I can't come it would be my misfortune. I don't want to feel like I'm on trial because of your country."
Since his conviction over 20 years ago, Tyson has travelled through many countries in Europe, South American and Asia.
His motivational speaking show, which has just finished a two-week Broadway stint under director Spike Lee, details how he turned his life around after drug dependency and spells in prison.
Immigration New Zealand released a statement yesterday saying Tyson would have to go through the visa application process, and would not necessarily be granted access to New Zealand.
"Mike Tyson will have to apply for a visa to enter New Zealand and make full disclosure of his previous convictions.
"There is never a guarantee that any visa application will be approved. All visa applications are considered on their individual circumstances.
"The Immigration Act 2009 allows for discretion to be exercised in certain cases," the statement said.
The 46-year-old made it clear his days as the "the baddest man on the planet" were over.
"Those days are over man. I left that for the other guys," he said.
Tyson was in a jovial mood, providing several lighter moments. Asked about the All Blacks, he replied: "Man, I've always been black. I've been playing black all my life."
Asked about whether he still had the pet tiger from hit Hollywood film The Hangover, he said: "No I don't have no damn pet tiger. I haven't got no damn money. If I had money I'd have a couple of tigers. You can't have tigers for free."
He also talked about blending in with the indigenous Aborigines in Australia.
- Sunday Star Times
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