Published: March 2, 2005
Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has virtually no chance of being allowed into Australia to relaunch his waning boxing career.
Acting immigration minister Peter McGauran gave a strong indication Tyson, 38, would have little hope of meeting the character requirements necessary to be granted an Australian visa.
Mr McGauran said the immigration department had a video tape of an interview Tyson gave in 2003 when he denounced Desiree Washington – whom he was convicted of raping.
Tyson described Washington as: “just a lying, reptilian, monstrous young lady”.
Mr McGauran said the fact Tyson served three years in jail raised concerns about the protection and safety of Australians if he was allowed into the country.
Another of Tyson’s notorious incidents, when he bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear in a title bout in 1997, would do him no favours when it came to applying for a visa, he said.
“That Holyfield incident was 1997 but only 18 months ago he claimed on national television, we’ve got the tape, (saying) that he was innocent of the rape of that Desiree Washington back in 1992 for which he served three years,” Mr McGauran told Southern Cross radio.
“But he now wished he’d raped both her and her mother.
“Now that’s got to go to the protection and safety of the Australian community.”
Tyson has signed on to train full time with Australian boxing great Jeff Fenech, who wants to bring the former champion to Australia in the hope of reinventing his battered public image and his professional career.
Fenech said he was already working on a fight for Tyson in Australia.
But the American would not be allowed into Australia without a visa and Mr McGauran said even if Fenech sponsored Tyson, it was unlikely he would meet the character requirements.
“We look at the nature and the seriousness of anybody’s criminal conduct, we look at the protection of the Australian community and also what are community standards,” he said.
“So even though he might have a cheer squad in Australia, that might be more than counter balanced by the expectations of the Australian community that he be refused a visa.
“What we can say is that in the past, people seeking to come to Australia with serious criminal convictions have been denied entry on character grounds.”
Immigration lawyer Nick McNally, from Sydney firm Parish Patience, agreed Tyson would probably fail in gaining a visa.
But Mr McNally said Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone would also have to weigh up the economic benefits Tyson could bring to Australia if he held a fight here.