Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a journalist based in Auckland.

Support for Tyson disappoints

Support for Mike Tyson's visa application shows "astonishing disrespect" for the thousands of victims of domestic and sexual violence, anti-violence group Shine says.

Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson's office yesterday confirmed it had received a new visa application for Tyson, which has the support of broadcaster Willie Jackson and the Manukau Urban Maori Authority which he heads.

But new questions are being raised about whether Tyson should be allowed to perform his one-man show at Auckland's Vector Arena, after reviews of his act in British newspapers suggest he is unrepentant about the rape he was convicted of in 1992.

Shine executive director Jane Drumm today said it was disappointing that Jackson believed Tyson should be held up as a role model.

Backing his visit would give young men the wrong message because Tyson had never admitted his crimes and continued to share his "destructive, misogynist beliefs and views about women" - especially sexual violence victims, she said.

Shine services director Jill Proudfoot said supporting Tyson showed "astonishing disrespect" for the thousands of victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

The group is the latest to call for Tyson's visa to be denied, following similar calls from Family First and anti-rape group Stop Demand.

Jackson yesterday said he would discuss with promoters what Tyson would say on his marae visit.

"Broadway shows are quite different, I think, from messages to youths and to disaffected people," he said.

"If he comes, we do not expect him to be bringing his show to the marae."

Jackson said there had been an "overwhelming response" from the south Auckland community.

"I accept there's going to be criticism, but out on the street the community support is tremendous," he said.

"People who have had the most questionable backgrounds, they're the types that at times can make a major difference to some of our youth and disaffected people."

Tyson was to visit New Zealand on November 15 for a 20-hour visit, including performing his one-man show at Auckland's Vector Arena.

Overseas reviews said he painted his 18-year-old victim as a villain, made her one of his "targets of contempt", questioned her credibility and told the audience he owed her no apology.

He also referred to women as "whores, bitches and tramps", including his victim, and joked about domestic violence against his ex-wife.

His promoter, Max Markson, said any New Zealand appearance would be "a different show" to his Broadway act.

He expected Ms Wilkinson would "do what's right" in considering the application.

"His visit here will be both socially and culturally beneficial to the community. He will be raising money for charity and he will be setting an example and talking to some of the kids who were like him, on the streets. And he can inspire them to change their lives around."

Tyson's visa application has been passed on to Immigration officials, who would advise Ms Wilkinson before she makes a decision.

He was initially granted a visa despite serving three years of a six-year sentence for the 1992 rape. Anyone sentenced to five years or longer in prison is banned from visiting New Zealand.

- APNZ

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