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Poker News: July 3, 2008

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Copyright © ABC

HEADLINE: Proposed Tyson poker visit prompts controversy

Body:
He is a convicted rapist and former heavy weight boxing champion who once bit an opponent's ear off in the ring.

Now Mike Tyson wants to come to Australia to try his hand at poker.

A News Limited paper has reported that the American plans to attend Crown Casino's poker championships in Melbourne early next year, but Crown says it is not aware of it.

Victims of crime groups are furious, saying Tyson should not be allowed into the country.

Bluffing and composure arguably are not Mike Tyson's forte. Fans of sport and observers of popular culture in general have grown to know Tyson for his excess.

He was jailed for the rape of Miss Black Rhode Island, Desiree Washington, in 1991, and later served time for bashing a Maryland motorist. His infamy grew when he bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear during a bout in 1997.

Tyson is currently playing cards in Los Angeles and told News Limited he has finalised a deal with Melbourne's Crown Casino to compete at its Aussie Millions poker championships in January. He says he would love to visit Australia.

But Crime Victims Support Association president Noel McNamara is not keeping his cards close to his chest. He says Tyson is not welcome.
"He's an undesirable type of person," he said.

"He's a rapist, he's a convicted rapist, he's got heaps of crimes that he's done before he became a boxing champion and we just believe he's unsuitable and it's an insult to victims.

"If we sent someone to America with any sort of record they wouldn't let him in, so I think the same should apply here."

He says he plans to write to Immigration Minister Chris Evans asking him to do just that - bar him.

No knowledge

Despite the reports, Tyson's Melbourne poker debut is news to Crown Casino's Gary O'Neil.

"I don't know on what basis he is saying that he has some deal with Crown because there is no deal as far as Crown is concerned," he said.

"A lot of people may or may not want to come to participate in poker tournaments.

"Crown invites certain people, it doesn't invite other people. We have not invited Mike Tyson and we have no intention of inviting Mike Tyson."

A spokesman for Senator Evans says it would be premature to speculate on whether Tyson would be granted a visa.
Under immigration laws, Tyson would be deemed a "controversial visa applicant". The Department's Sandi Logan says this is a higher bar to clear.

"We would look at things like a substantial criminal record, whether someone has or has had an association with undesirables or those involved in criminal conduct, their past and present criminal conduct. We'd look at their general conduct," she said.

"We would have to gauge whether there was a significant risk that a person might engage or would engage in criminal conduct in Australia. And we'd also look at issues that may represent a danger to the Australian community."

She says there have been a number of cases in the past where people have fallen under this category.

"Some of those who come to mind would be people like Gerry Adams or Jeffrey Archer, Cat Stevens or even 50 Cent. They were all controversial visitors for various reasons," she said.

Bernie Balmer is a Melbourne barrister and he also chairs the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Board. He thinks Tyson should be allowed entry into Australia.

"He's been tried and punished for whatever crimes that he's committed, so he's served his time and the community ought to allow him to reintegrate and he ought to partake in things like this if he's invited to re-earn his trust in society," he said.

He acknowledges that such a decision is likely to offend some people, and he says he sympathises with victims of crime.
"He's a fellow who's probably upset many people over the years," he said.

"Be that as it may, as I said, he's paid his price and he ought to be allowed back into the community."

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