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Tyson: History shows most men are sexist

Last updated 12:26 14/10/2012
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Mike Tyson
Getty Images
MIKE TYSON: Served three years in jail for rape, but continues to deny the offending.

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Former boxer and convicted rapist Mike Tyson has entered the sexism debate engulfing Australian politics.

Impressed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard's fiery speech to parliament in which she branded Opposition Leader Tony Abbott sexist, Tyson said society is sexist.

Tyson - a former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world who won his first 19 bouts by knockout - had his visa to visit New Zealand cancelled. A second application was made, and that was also denied.

Of Gillard, Tyson told The Sunday Telegraph: "I'm not saying she's right. I'm not saying that I'm on her side, I'm just going by the facts of what history proves, that most males are that way."

"We can't help that, society told us to be that way. We have to within ourselves overcome that thinking, change that thinking, and then everybody might be on equal terms."

When Abbott called for Speaker Peter Slipper removed - saying he was "no longer a fit and proper person to uphold the dignity of the federal parliament" - Gillard said the opposition leader had just discovered sexism because he wanted to use it as a battering ram against Slipper.

She said Abbott's hypocrisy and double-standards should not be tolerated.

"I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, I will not," Gillard said, pointing at Abbott.

"Not now, not ever."

She slammed Abbott for his previous statements about abortion and women doing the ironing.

However, Abbott was a product of a sexist society, Tyson said.

"I can't judge nobody, I have my own history with people and crime and women and everything, so I'm not going to judge him. We have a process of learning.

"That's what we are as people and as time goes on, maybe we'll learn and think differently.

"I'm not saying he's a bad guy ... I'm just saying sometimes we get caught up with our society."

Tyson, 46, said he thought it was "wonderful" Australia had a female prime minister.

The former champion boxer, who was convicted of rape in the US in 1992, will visit Australia in November for a five-day speaking tour.

He said he is a "changed man" and will be on his "best behaviour" when he arrives in the country.

"You know, you're not going to see me in the strip clubs in Australia, you're not going to see me out in the clubs in Australia. I'm not going to be getting high in Australia.

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"I'm just going to be going there and enjoying myself, and then hope the people enjoy themselves as well."

The New Zealand leg of Tyson's tour was scuttled after he was forced to lodge a second application to visit the country.

Last month he was granted a special visitor's visa to New Zealand so he could speak at an event in Auckland in November but it was cancelled days later.

Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson made the call after it was revealed the children's charity backing him - Life Education Trust - had withdrawn their support.

The second rejection came despite urban Maori authority chairman Willie Jackson backing Tyson.

After the first visa was pulled, Tyson filed another application after he received backing from Jackson, who said he would support the boxer if he visited South Auckland marae and spoke to young Maori there. But Wilkinson said that was not enough.

"The original decision in respect of Mr Tyson was a finely balanced call based on the letter of support from a board member of the Life Education Trust," she said.

"When the Trust withdrew its support I received another application from Mr Tyson's representatives with the support of the Manukau Urban Maori Authority.

"This new application was not enough to get the application over the line and as such, I have declined to grant Mr Tyson a new visa under the Immigration Act 2009.''


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