Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Knocked out: Mike Tyson barred from New Zealand

Philippe Lopez / AFP - Getty Images, file

Former heavyweight world champion Mike Tyson is "disappointed" and "quite down" about New Zealand's decision, according to the promoter for his planned visit.

By NBC News staff and wire reports

Updated at 5:57 a.m. ET: Retired boxer and convicted rapist Mike Tyson has been barred from New Zealand by government ministers who revoked an entry permit for his forthcoming speaking tour.

Authorities in the country - whose indigenous Maori people Tyson says inspired his facial tattoo ? reversed an earlier decision to allow him entry after a children?s health charity withdrew its support for his controversial visit.

The 46-year-old could now face a similar problem entering Australia. He is due to speak at a November event in Auckland, the "Day of the Champions."

Tyson's 1992 conviction for raping an Indiana beauty queen would normally prevent his entry in New Zealand and could be grounds for denial in Australia as well. He had been granted an exemption by the New Zealand government because some proceeds from his talk would have benefited the Life Education Trust.

However, that charity withdrew its previous support Tuesday. In a statement, New Zealand's Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson said: ?Given that the trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa.?

Max Markson, the promoter for Tyson's visits to Australia and New Zealand, told New Zealand television channel TV ONE that Tyson was "disappointed" by the decision.

"He is quite down about it," said Markson, adding that Tyson had "rebuilt his life" in recent years.

"He's clean, he sober, he's a vegan, he's coming with his wife, his two children under four and his mother-in-law, he can't possibly do anything wrong in 20 hours,? Markson told the channel. "And in addition to that he is very much giving a social and economic benefit to the New Zealand economy."

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A spokesman for Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship said a decision was ?still pending" on Tyson's application for an Australian visa.

Markson told The Associated Press he's continuing to sell tickets to the planned speeches in both countries and that buyers will get a full refund if the shows are cancelled. He said he had immigration lawyers in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. working on a new application. Tickets for the event cost up NZ$395 ($324) for a chance to meet Tyson in person.

This summer, Mike Tyson is taking on a new role, appearing on Broadway in a one-man show called "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth." The former heavyweight champion and director Spike Lee chat with the TODAY team about conquering the stage together.

Tyson said his distinctive facial was inspired by those worn by New Zealand's indigenous Maori. In pre-European times, many Maori wore elaborate facial tattoos as a sign of their status in their tribe. Some Maori today who identify strongly with their traditional culture get similar tattoos.

Tyson was undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion in the 1980s but in 1992 he was convicted of raping teenager Desiree Washington in Indiana and served three years in prison.?

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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.

Reuters, The Associated Press and NBC News' Alastair Jamieson contributed to this report.

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