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Iron Mike's NZ visit a 'line-ball call', says Key

Published: 6:31PM Tuesday October 02, 2012 Source: ONE News

Boxing bad boy Mike Tyson has pulled no punches when explaining why his rape conviction shouldn't stop him from visiting New Zealand.

The former world heavyweight champion was sentenced to six years in jail for the rape of an 18-year-old beauty queen in 1991.

"Well, I didn't do the crime," he told ONE Breakfast. "I was set up - I don't care what people say.

"I didn't do that f***ing crime."

New Zealand immigration law state that a visa will not be granted to a person who has been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for five years or more. However Tyson dodged that rule because associate immigration minister Kate Wilkinson gave special instructions to allow "Iron Mike" to come to the country for a speaking engagement.

"It was 20 years ago and the reports say that he's been rehabilitated," said Wilkinson, who confirmed the Life Education Trust's support for his visit also swayed her decision.

"I know some people don't like it, but at the end of the day I just think if he can turn around a young person's life, then that makes all the difference. What is the harm of him coming to New Zealand for a couple of weeks?"

The Prime Minister appeared unimpressed that the so-called "baddest man on the planet" is heading NZ's way and said the decision to grant Tyson a visa was a "line-ball call".

"I dont have anything personally against Mike Tyson, but I have something deeply personal against people who rape other people and who commit crimes against women," Key said.

Tyson was unmoved by Key's comments.

"Sorry he feels that way - he's the Prime Minister and if he feels that way, then I have nothing to say."

The bankrupt 46-year-old will profit from the speech, which he admits isn't necessarily motivational - just the story of his life.

"I want to come over there," says Tyson. "I don't have any problems - I'm not going to do anything to anyone over there.

"I'm coming over there with my family."