EXCLUSIVE: Tory councillors tell former world boxing champ Mike Tyson to cancel his tour of Wirral (From Wirral Globe)
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EXCLUSIVE: Tory councillors tell former world boxing champ Mike Tyson to cancel his tour of Wirral
COUNCILLORS are squaring up to former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson telling him he will not be welcome in Wirral and calling for his planned visit to be cancelled.
Tyson, once-styled “The Baddest Man on the Plant” is due to call in at a series of local boxing gyms to hold master-classes with youngsters next month.
Organiser and ex-boxer Kenny Rainford said the reaction locally to the visit had been “positive.” He said: “People are really looking forward to it.”
But Tory councillors Steve Williams and Chris Blakeley say Tyson is not the type of character they believe was wanted for the youth of Wirral to “look up to and respect.”
And Jo Wood from Rape And Sexual Abuse, an organisation that supports survivors of sexual violence including rape, is appalled at the thought of a convicted rapist being given a "hero's welcome" in Wirral.
Councillor Steve Williams, who represents Moreton and Saughall Massie, said: “This man has been jailed for rape, jailed for assaulting two motorist in a road rage incident and jailed for unlawful drug possession.
“In a sporting contest he bit part of an opponent’s ear off – hardly sportsmanlike.
“I would question that if it was the other way around, would a British person with that history even be allowed into the United States?”
Jo Wood said:"The effects of sexual violence last a lifetime - victims always receive a life sentence and we do not feel it at all appropriate that this man, a violent man and a convicted rapist, should be made welcome in our Borough or seen as a role model.
"There are enough strong men and women who can be seen as role models for our youth - take a look at the paralympians!!
"We believe our councillors, as responsible adults - elected by the residents of Wirral, should take a stand and declare that he is not welcome here.
"To do otherwise to make a mockery of the thousands of Wirral residents who have been, who are currently, and who will in the future, be victims of rape and abuse!"
Colleague Cllr Chris Blakeley said: “While I recognise that many in the boxing world see Mike Tyson as a ‘legend’ his history both inside and outside the ring hardly substantiate his position as a ‘role model’ to youngsters in the borough.
“As an authority I know we want to be inclusive and welcoming. However should we be welcoming this particular individual?
“The council needs to look at what action it can take to stop this unwanted visit.”
Mr Rainford said Tyson’s visit had “nothing to do with the council” and would go ahead.
He said the former heavyweight champion had been convicted and had served his time.
But he insisted that he was a reformed character and was now married with a family and was a man of God.”
Mr Rainford said: “He is a reformed character and he is trying to move forward. I have met him many times and he is an absolute gentleman and always eager to help people.
“He will work with these young boxers when he comes here and hopefully show them how to stay on the right path and not go down the wrong route.”
Tyson will also attend a Sunday lunch at the Devonshire House Hotel, Liverpool on October 7.
The locations of the Wirral boxing gyms are not being made public for security reasons but tickets, costing £75, are available for the lunch.
More information is available from the Devonshire House Hotel on 0151 264 6600.
Tyson is a former undisputed champion of the world and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF titles as a 20-year-old.
In 1992 he was convicted of rape for which he was sentenced to six years in prison. He was released after serving three .
He then engaged in a series of comeback fights and in 1996, won the WBC and WBA titles after defeating Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon by knockout.