Mike Tyson cleared to enter NZ despite conviction

By Hayden Donnell

Mike Tyson has been given a special permit allowing him to apply to enter New Zealand, despite a past rape conviction putting him in breach of immigration rules.

The former heavyweight boxing champion is booked to deliver an "inspirational, motivational and educational" talk at the 'Day of the Champions' event at Vector Arena on November 15.

His bid to gain a visa had seemed to be in jeopardy because of immigration rules barring serious criminal offenders from entering New Zealand.

Under the Immigration Act (http://glossary.immigration.govt.nz/section15and16.htm) anyone who has been sentenced to five years or more in prison is to be denied a visa.

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 today confirmed Tyson has been granted a 'special direction' allowing him to apply for a visa despite his conviction.

Operations support manager Michael Carley said the special permit was issued under a section of the Immigration Act allowing exceptions to be given to a person who is not eligible for a visa.

"All visa applications are considered on a case by case basis and against immigration instructions, including requirements to be of good character."

It was not possible to say when Immigration New Zealand would make its final decision on whether to issue Tyson a visa, Mr Carley said.

Rape Prevention Education director Kim McGregor earlier 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.

According to the official website for Mike Tyson's "Day of the Champions" event, the $249 ringside tickets for the event have already sold out.

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.

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