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It appears that Mike Tyson’s dream of getting to know New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people – whose signature facial art inspired that of Tyson himself – may be dashed.
According to The Associated Press, New Zealand authorities have barred the former heavyweight champion from entering the country.
Tyson has plans for a “Downunder” speaking tour for which tickets are still be sold in New Zealand and five major Australian cities. "They'll hear about a gentleman who started off on the wrong side of the street and he built his way up and destroyed himself and tore himself down and he built himself up and down and at the end of the day he made it," stated Tyson. When asked if he was a good role model, Tyson said it was not a responsibility that he would have chosen but that he tries to meet nonetheless.
His criminal past has become a major point of contention throughout Tyson’s application for a visa. In 1992, Mike Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison for the rape of 18-year-old Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. Such a conviction would normally lead to his outright denial from entrance into New Zealand and possibly Australia.
However, New Zealand’s Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson granted the boxer an exemption in what she refers to as “a finely balanced call”. In light of the fact that Tyson’s Auckland appearance would benefit the Life Education Trust, a children’s health charity, Wilkinson granted him entry. But on Tuesday, October 2nd, this charity withdrew its support of the event.
“Given that the trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa,” stated Minister Wilkinson.
Elsewhere, a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship asserts that “the decision is still pending” on Tyson’s application for an Australian visa.
Despite authorities’ decisions, Mike appears determined to experience life “downunder”. Time reports that in an interview with APNZ, Tyson said, “Fortunately, I am coming to New Zealand and there’s nothing they can do about it and I’m so sorry, I’m sorry they feel disappointed and I’m just living my life.”
According to CBS.com, when speaking to the APNZ News Agency last week, Tyson said that aside from their tattoos, he is not familiar with the Maori culture, “so I’m looking forward to come down there and see them.”