The decision to grant boxer Mike Tyson a visa was made after the Life Education Trust supported his application, Immigration NZ said today; however, the education charity says it refused to back him.
School teacher Juliana Venning complained to the department about the Tyson decision and was told the former heavyweight champion’s previous criminal convictions meant he would be ineligible to be granted a visa to enter New Zealand unless given a ‘Special Direction’.
A Special Direction is considered by the Associate Minister of Immigration under Section 17 of the Immigration Act 2009 and allows exceptions to be given to a person who is not eligible for a visa.
The official said in an email ``Tyson’s application was supported by the Life Education Trust, and a Special Direction was subsequently granted by the Associate Minister. Mr Tyson was then able to apply for a visa to enter New Zealand.’’
Tyson’s subsequent visa application was approved by Immigration New Zealand.
``The Special Direction meant that Mr Tyson’s criminal convictions were not required to be considered by Immigration New Zealand when deciding the application. INZ was satisfied that all other requirements were met,’’ the official wrote.
An outraged Venning then complained to the Life Education Trust asking why the organisation was sponsoring Tyson when he was jailed in 1992 for two counts sexual deviancy, (one of rape) and jailed again 1999 for violent attacks on two motorists.
``I am as a teacher appalled and will be taking this up with schools and the Teachers' Council,” Venning wrote
Life Education Trust Chief Executive John O’Connell said the immigration official was wrong.
``Life Education Trust (NZ) were approached by the promoter in August to be considered as a charity recipient but we DECLINED to be associated with the event as a charity recipient or any other association with his visit,’’ O’Connell wrote.
On TVNZ this morning Tyson took offence to a question on his prior conviction of raping an 18-year-old female.
“I didn't do the crime, I was set up, I don't care what people say. I didn't do that f**king crime,” he said.
Tyson is headlining a motivational speaking night in Auckland in November.
Tyson rocketed to world fame with his ferocious boxing style eventually taking all world titles when he knocked out the previously undefeated Michael Spinks in 91 seconds.
His career collapsed as his personal life disintegrated leading him to jail and notoriety.