Tyson 'disappointed' by UK ban
Published 10/12/2013 | 14:36
Former world heavyweight champion boxer and convicted rapist Mike Tyson tonight said he was "greatly disappointed" when he discovered he is banned from entering the UK.
Tyson, 47, was due in London this week as part of a promotional tour for his new autobiography Undisputed Truth, which included a photocall with journalists and a book signing at Waterstones.
His publishers said recent changes to UK immigration laws meant he was unable to travel to the country and has been re-routed to Paris instead.
Tyson is currently booked in for a British tour for his one-man Broadway show, directed by Spike Lee, which is booked for eight nights in March next year in London, Glasgow and Manchester.
In a statement to the Press Association, Mr Tyson said: "I was greatly disappointed when I learned of United Kingdom's immigration law changes that went into effect December 2012.
"I have been coming to the UK consistently in the past decade so this change is disheartening since it affects my current entry standing.
"I apologise to my fans that were inconvenienced, however, please know I am currently working diligently with the proper authorities to regain access next year for my UK tour.
"I am currently stationed in Paris, attending to press that was scheduled for my visit this week in London.
"I am very much looking forward to talking about my book, Undisputed Truth, and UK tour, and very appreciative of the British press for being so accommodating in the interim.
"I have a great deal of respect for the laws of the United Kingdom and will continue taking the proper steps for re-entry."
Tweets posted on Tyson's official Twitter account as recently as Friday suggest the boxer was unaware he would be hit by the changes until the last minute.
He wrote: " So, UK fans, who is brave enough to get in the ring and ask me a question?"
And then in subsequent tweets added: "Tweet me a question with #UndisputedTruthBook in it. The 5 best get to step in the ring & ask me it in person" and "Ok, lots of questions there. If you've won, @harpercollinsUK will be in touch soon. Thanks everyone for participating."
A spokesman for HarperCollins said: "There was a change in the UK immigration law in December 2012 of which we were unaware. For this reason Mike had to change location to Paris to salvage his press obligations for the UK."
He was convicted in 1992 for the rape of a teenage beauty queen, and served three years of a six-year sentence. He also has convictions for assault, cocaine possession and driving under the influence.
Under the new immigration rules, any person who has been sentenced to more than four years in prison is barred from entering the country.
The explosive boxer was the youngest man ever to become heavyweight champion of the world after he beat Trevor Berbick in 1986 when he was just 20.
But throughout his career he also courted controversy. He bit opponent Evander Holyfield's ear, went bankrupt, lost his four-year-old daughter in a tragic domestic accident, and was jailed.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: " We would not comment on the details of an individual case.
" We reserve the right to refuse entry to the UK to anyone who is convicted of serious criminal offences.
"In December 2012 we toughened up the rules on entering the UK, replacing the previous discretionary approach with a clearer, stronger framework including mandatory refusals based on the length of, and time since, sentence."
Campaigning group Ending Victimisation and Blame, which tackles disbelief around domestic and sexual violence, said: "W e are delighted that Mike Tyson is not being allowed into the UK due to his previous convictions, one of which was for rape.
"We believe that this sends a message that his criminal actions have long-term consequences - sadly, the consequences for his victim seem to have been forgotten by both Mike Tyson and his supporters."