Mike Tyson won't "beg" for a New Zealand visa

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -Former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson says he hopes to be granted a visa to visit New Zealand in November but won't "cower and beg" immigration officials to overlook his criminal convictions.

Tyson has been booked to make a visit New Zealand and Australia in November on a motivational speaking tour dubbed "The Day of Champions."

The New Zealand Immigration Service has yet to decide whether it will grant a visa to Tyson who was convicted of rape in 1992 and served three years of a six year sentence.

Under New Zealand law, anyone convicted of an offense which carries a prison sentence of five years or longer will not get a visa, though discretion is allowed in some cases.

Speaking to New Zealand reporters on Thursday in a video hookup from Las Vegas, Tyson was in a typically pugnacious mood.

"I'm not going to sit here and cower and beg to come to your country," Tyson said.

"I'm sorry, but if I can't come, I can't come. It will be my misfortune but I don't want to feel like I'm on trial to come to your country.

"I've never been to New Zealand. I've never had the opportunity before. It must be a serious country if I can't go there."

Tyson's promoter, Max Markson, told reporters "we've applied for the visa and asked for a special direction from the minister, so we're waiting patiently for a visa."

Markson said Tyson's facial tatoo is based on the traditional artworks of New Zealand's indigenous Maori and could be classified as "an honorary New Zealander."

"He's a great ambassador and he really does have a tremendous story which he has to tell to the people of New Zealand and it would be a tragedy if the show that he's been doing on Broadway for the last few weeks can't be told," Markson said.

"He's not a danger to New Zealand, he'll be there for one day."

In a statement, the New Zealand Immigration Service said Tyson's visa application would be considered under the same rules as any other.

"Mike Tyson will have to apply for a visa to enter New Zealand and make full disclosure of his previous convictions," it said.

"There is never a guarantee that any visa application will be approved. All visa applications are considered on their individual circumstances."

The 46-year-old Tyson used to proclaim himself the "baddest man on the planet", but no longer.

"Those days are over man," he said. "I left that for the other guys."

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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