Mike Tyson faces Belfast rape protest
Published 11/09/2009 | 01:33
A rape victims group is poised to picket an appearance at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall by former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.
Tyson, the youngest heavyweight champion in history, was jailed for three years in 1993 after being found guilty of the rape of beauty queen Desiree Washington.
He will appear in An Evening with Mike Tyson on November 6 at the Waterfront Hall, which is owned by Belfast City Council.
Eileen Calder from the Rape Crisis Centre said council property should not host a convicted rapist.
“I am appalled that Tyson has been invited here in the first place and I am calling on Belfast City Council to explain why they are allowing this to happen,” she said.
“Our centre, along with the council, has fought against the opening of lap-dancing clubs.
“In fact, the council has an impeccable record for campaigning to prevent rape, along with police and other organisations. At the same time having a convicted rapist lionised and made a hero of at your venue is most contradictory.
“I would certainly consult some survivors’ groups and women’s groups about mounting a picket outside this event.”
But a spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said: “The booking is from a private promoter who is hiring the hall. Belfast City Council does not have a policy that would prevent this event taking place, as this could be construed as a form of censorship.
“As this is a paid-for ticketed event, people have a choice as to whether or not to attend.”
Tyson’s tour of the UK has been organised by Jimmy Clyne Promotions, based in Essex.
Mr Clyne said: “Everybody has a past. I can’t make any judgment about what happened because I wasn’t there.”
Mr Clyne added that questions can be submitted in advance of the show and there was no ban on questions about Tyson’s rape conviction.
Tyson’s four-year-old daughter Exodus died in May after accidentally strangling herself on a cord hanging from a treadmill.
But Mr Clyne said there had been no question of Tyson not fulfilling his promise to visit Belfast, which had been in the pipeline since February.