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Herald on Sunday editorial: Mike Tyson's down and out - thankfully

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Mike Tyson has got off the ropes before, but Friday's rejection of a second application for a visa to visit New Zealand certainly means his chances of coming here have been knocked out.

In some ways that is a pity. While no one would condone the acts that led to him being sentenced to six years in jail for raping an 18-year-old beauty contestant, the former world heavyweight boxing champion has done so many amazing, crazy and downright cringeworthy things in his life that the thought of attending his one-man show at Auckland's Vector Arena would have held great fascination for many.

This is the man who famously bit the ear of opponent Evander Holyfield. He was married to actress Robin Givens (who still gives talks about the domestic violence she suffered); he was fought over through the courts by legendary promoter Don King; he underwent a conversion to Islam; he went bankrupt despite earning millions; and he is now a proficient and funny speaker on the celebrity circuit. That he is good on stage is perhaps proved by the cracker lines he has delivered in the comedy movie franchise The Hangover in recent years. He has, as an understatement, got a tale or two to tell.

Tyson is being allowed to tell those stories in Australia, where officials have taken a more lenient line than our Associate Immigration Minister, Kate Wilkinson.

If it was just about his show, would there really be harm in him coming here? People willing to front up with cash for tickets, which were to range in price from $69 to $400, would have known what they were getting into. It's called freedom of choice.

What turned out to be the show stopper, however, was his potential involvement with our under-privileged youth. Maori leader and broadcaster Willie Jackson, who led the Manukau Urban Maori Authority's support of Tyson's visit, said he wanted the boxer to have to visit youth in South Auckland as a condition of his visa.

That, surely, tipped Wilkinson's hand.

Overseas reviews of Tyson's show say he paints the 18-year-old he raped as a villain, questions her credibility and tells the audience he owes her no apology.

Hardly the actions of a man trying to make good with the world.

Paying punters would have made a choice in listening to that sort of bile. But impressionable youth should not be exposed to someone with those views.

- Herald on Sunday

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