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Boxing champion Mike Tyson banned from entering UK

Former world heavyweight champion was due in London this week as part of a promotional tour for his new autobiography Undisputed Truth
  • @adamwithnall

The former heavyweight world champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson has been banned from entering the UK, forcing the last-minute cancellation of a promotional tour.

The boxer was due to arrive this week for London appearances including a book signing for his new autobiography Undisputed Truth, and a question-and-answer session set to take place in a boxing ring.

Yet under new UK immigration rules, anyone with a previous conviction resulting in a jail sentence of more than four years is barred from entering the country.

Tyson, 47, served three years of a six-year term in the 1990s after he was convicted of raping a teenage beauty queen.

The controversial former boxing star also has convictions for assault, cocaine possession and driving under the influence.

While at the peak of his powers he famously bit opponent Evander Holyfield's ear, went bankrupt, lost his four-year-old daughter in a tragic domestic accident, and was jailed.

Tyson’s publishers had been promoting the tour as recently as Friday, when his official Twitter account posted the challenge: “So, UK fans, who is brave enough to get in the ring and ask me a question?”

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.”

The boxer also has a number of dates booked in Britain for next year which could now be jeopardy. He had been set to bring his one-man Broadway show, directed by Spike Lee, for eight nights across the country in March.

Tyson had been the subject of a Change.org petition calling for him to be banned from entering the UK ahead of the theatre tour in light of his rape conviction.

Yet some Twitter users said they disagreed with the Home Office policy in the boxer's case. The British broadcaster and CNN talk show host Piers Morgan wrote: “Can't believe @MikeTyson has been barred from entering Britain. He's a changed man, with a powerful message. Ridiculous decision.”

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.”