3 Oct 2012

Mike Tyson's visa to NZ cancelled

9:02 pm on 3 October 2012

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson's visa to New Zealand has been cancelled.

Tyson was to give a presentation at the Day of the Champions event at Vector Arena in Auckland as part of a speaking tour of New Zealand and Australia in November.

The American was convicted of rape in 1992 and spent three years in prison, serving half of a six-year sentence.

People with sentences of more than five years are automatically declined entry to New Zealand if they apply for a normal visa.

Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson says the original decision to grant the visa was a finely balanced call and a letter of support from the Life Education Trust was a significant factor in approving the application.

On Tuesday, the anti-drugs trust contacted the minister's office asking for that letter to be withdrawn and making it clear it no longer wanted to have any involvement with the visit.

"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 for the Day of the Champions event," Ms Wilkinson said in a statement on Wednesday.

Life Education Trust executive director John O'Connell says the letter was sent by a volunteer trustee without the trust's knowledge and did not represent the views of the organisation as a whole.

Mr O'Connell says trust declined to support or be involved in the tour in August and it will investigate what happened.

"We made a decision some six weeks ago that we didn't want to be involved. We had the opportunity, we considered it, we declined it - and that was the end of the matter.

"We made that decision for what we thought were the right reasons for our organisation, so I guess it's disappointing that we're now six weeks down the track trying to unravel a decision we had already made some time ago."

Prime Minister John Key says he had no part to play in the decision to grant or revoke the visa, but supports the decision to stop Mike Tyson from entering the country, saying Ms Wilkinson made the best call once the trust withdrew its support.

Long-standing boxing enthusiast Sir Robert Jones says stopping Tyson from coming to New Zealand will cost the taxpayer.

Sir Robert, a businessman and former politician, says the promoters acted on a decision by the Government and if the event is cancelled they will be seeking compensation for costs of organising and advertising it.

Tickets to the event were selling for $69 or $300 to meet Tyson.