Rape conviction may stop Tyson's NZ visit

By Hayden Donnell

Mike Tyson's rape conviction may derail his plans to deliver an "inspirational, motivational and educational" talk in Auckland.

The former heavyweight boxing champion is booked to headline the 'Day of the Champions' motivational speaking event at Vector Arena on November 15.

However, he may be turned back by immigration rules barring serious criminal offenders from entering New Zealand.

Under the Immigration Act, anyone who has been sentenced to five years or more in prison is to be denied a visa to enter the country.

Tyson was sentenced to six years in jail in 1992 for the rape of 18-year-old Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room.

Immigration New Zealand said in a statement Tyson will have to disclose his previous convictions when he applies to enter the country.

It said officials would be able to use their discretion in their decision on whether to grant Tyson a visa despite his past conviction.

All visa decisions weigh up individual circumstances against immigration instructions, it said.

"The Immigration Act... allows for discretion to be exercised in certain cases."

Rape Prevention Education director Kim McGregor said Tyson did not deserve to be granted an exception to immigration rules.

"There are so many victims and survivors of sexual violence in this country and I imagine that they would be unhappy if the rules are changed for this person just because he has a high profile."

Tyson was not an appropriate choice for a talk aimed at inspiring and motivating people, Dr McGregor said.

"We would hope that people giving motivational speeches are people who are good role models for society. With a history of being convicted of rape he's not a good role model for young people.

"The rules have been put in place for a reason. He's been convicted of rape. There doesn't seem to be a good reason to change them."

The 'Day of the Champions' event is promoted as a full day of "inspiration, motivation and education", with Tyson and other motivational speakers booked to talk.

Its website says Tyson will reveal unknown truths about himself as he tells his story of "triumph and survival" in the face of tragedy.

Tickets to the event range from $69 to $300.

- Herald Online

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 21 Apr 2014 17:15:21 Processing Time: 552ms