Tyson was due to appear at a motivational speaking event in Auckland next month but on Wednesday Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson said his special visitor’s visa – issued only last week – had been cancelled.
Ms Wilkinson, in a statement, said the original visa decision “was a finely balanced call” that was swayed by a letter of support from the Life Education Trust.
But that appeared to be news to trust bosses, who said they had turned down a promoter’s offer in August to get behind the event.
“We didn’t believe it was an appropriate fit,” trust chief executive John O’Connell told AAP.
However, it later discovered a volunteer trustee had written a supporting letter for the event on behalf of the trust.
Mr O’Connell said he was “stunned” to learn the trustee’s letter had backed Tyson’s visit.
The trust then asked to have the letter withdrawn and the minister revoked Tyson’s visa.
Mr O’Connell would not reveal who the trustee was and described the letter as “a misjudgement”.
Tyson, a ferocious fighter described as “the baddest man on the planet”, became the world’s youngest heavyweight boxing champion in 1988. But in 1992 he was sentenced to six years’ jail for the rape of an 18-year-old woman in the US.
New Zealand immigration laws stipulate that no one who has been sentenced to five years or more can be given a visa unless they are given special dispensation.
During a television interview this week, promoting The Day of the Champions, Tyson denied raping the woman.