New Zealand grants Mike Tyson visa

Updated: October 2, 2012, 2:29 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Immigration officials have decided to award former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson a visa to enter New Zealand despite his criminal convictions.

Tyson is due to visit New Zealand on a speaking tour this month. He was sentenced in 1992 to six years in prison after being convicted of rape. A serious criminal conviction would usually lead to the refusal of a visa, but Prime Minister John Key said immigration officials can exercise discretion in individual cases.

Key said Tyson's visa application was approved because his conviction was 20 years ago and he'll be in New Zealand "for about 20 hours." He added: "It's a marginal call and there are always issues that have to be reflected."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.