Promoters of Mike Tyson’s visit to New Zealand will apply for a new visa for the former heavyweight boxing champion after the government revoked his entry permit on Wednesday.
Tyson, who served three years of a six-year U.S. jail sentence for rape in 1992, had been due to take part in an event in November but needed dispensation under New Zealand immigration laws because of his conviction.
However, a youth-related charity trust which originally backed his visit to appear at the event, billed as “Day of the Champions”, said it no longer wanted to have anything to do with Tyson’s visit due to his rape conviction.
“Given that the Trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa to enter New Zealand,” Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson said in a statement.
She said the original decision to allow Tyson in had been a “finely balanced call”, with the backing of the charity a significant factor in the dispensation being granted.
Promoters later said they would appeal the decision, but an Immigration New Zealand spokesperson said appeals were not allowed under the legislation.
Applicants need to apply for a new visa and “any change in circumstances since the original application was lodged will be taken into account”.
An official from the promoters told Reuters by telephone from Sydney that they would apply for a new visa for Tyson and do “everything by the book”.
“We are going back to Immigration New Zealand to reconsider their decision,” she said. “We are quite confident they will come to the table with a (positive) decision.”
Tyson’s planned visit had been attacked by women’s groups and criticised by the prime minister.
Tyson, 46, was undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion in the 1980s but in 1992 he was convicted of raping teenage beauty queen Desiree Washington in Indiana and served three years in prison.
He added to his notoriety when he bit rival Evander Holyfield on both ears in a 1997 bout, for which he was disqualified and temporarily suspended from boxing.
Tyson declared bankruptcy in 2003 and retired from professional boxing in 2006.
Last month, Tyson spoke to a financiers’ conference in Hong Kong about his life before and after boxing, his family and his acting career, which includes a recent one-man show on Broadway.
Promoters said they would seek a charity to support Tyson’s visit but if he remained banned from the country they would still hold the event.
“He is the star of the show and we would love to have him down there, but if we can’t physically have him in the country we will try to find a way to make it happen,” the spokeswoman said before adding they would look at a video-link hookup.
Tickets, which could cost up NZ$395 (200 pounds) for a chance to meet Tyson in person, would be refunded if the former boxer was unable to attend, she said.