By Janika Ter Ellen
Former boxer Mike Tyson has found another charitable organisation to support his bid for a visa to visit New Zealand.
Yesterday his approval was revoked by the Government, but his promoters are not giving up.
The Life Education Trust says it never wanted to be involved with Mike Tyson who is famous for his boxing heavyweight title and infamous for his rape conviction and bad-boy lifestyle.
But Willie Jackson, chair of the Urban Maori Authority says his organisation will sponsor Tyson's trip to New Zealand.
“We are not bringing Mike Tyson here to rape anyone. We are bringing Mike Tyson here to change people's lives,” Mr Jackson says.
The Urban Maori Authority works with at-risk Maori in South Auckland and helps people to turn their lives around.
“I want to put Mike Tyson in front of people who need support, who need a message," Mr Jackson says. "Why would people be opposed to that?
“We see Mike Tyson’s life [as a] reflection of life in South Auckland so a bloke who’s turned his life around would give hope to a lot of people in South Auckland.”
Rape Crisis says it's simple - Tyson is no contender for the title of role-model.
Associate Minister of Immigration Kate Wilkinson revoked Tyson's visa yesterday, after revelations that a letter of support from the Life Education Trust came from a volunteer trustee, and not the national charity itself.
But Ms Wilkinson says if another organisation came forward to partner with Tyson she would consider the application again, taking into consideration the type of charity, and the benefit to them. Her office won't comment on this new partnership, because it hasn't yet received a fresh visa application.
Mr Jackson says if the minister said yes to Life Education, it should say yes to his organisation.
He says Tyson is a good man now.
“What happened was 20 years ago, and our organisation is built on redemption and we’ve had worse people than Mike Tyson come through our organisation.
“I’ll make a bet with anyone that Tyson won’t rape anyone in his 20 hours here.”
But Labour immigration spokesperson Darien Fenton says if the visa was granted again it would be a highly unprecedented move.
“I'm not aware of any case where special direction has been asked for, declined, and then re-considered.”
Tyson's promoters are still selling tickets, but it remains to be seen whether he'll make it to New Zealand for his one-man show.