A CHARITY which campaigns against sexual violence has condemned £150-a-seat talk show featured former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.
Rape Crisis claims Tyson, who was jailed for rape, should not be branded a legend – and even warned that his appearance may silence women who have been attacked.
Christina Diamandopoulos, of Rape Crisis, which provides rape victims with support, said: “Any offender convicted of sexual violence cannot be counted a legend or hero in any sense without diminishing the importance and seriousness of rape and sexual assault. The message to survivors and to women being victimised, at present, is that ‘society does not think you are important and your suffering is not important’.
“It may have the effect of silencing women or deterring them from coming forward. It is a sign that money speaks louder than humanity.”
Organisers of the event at the city council-owned Portsmouth Guildhall insisted that his controversial behaviour is in the past.
Andy Foreman, who is organising the event for WCBC, said: “What has been done is in the past and it has been done a long time ago. Everyone moves on and he is a family man.”
Andy Grays, chairman of Portsmouth Cultural Trust, which is responsible for the Guildhall, said: “He has served his time. These Mike Tyson events have happened for many years throughout the UK. If he does say or do anything offensive here he will never come here again.”
Tyson became the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world at the age of just 20.
But he is as well known for his bad behaviour outside the ring as his brilliance inside it.
In 1992 Tyson was handed a six-year sentence for raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant. He was released after serving three years.
His was also dogged by accusations of domestic violence and drug use. Inside the ropes he infamously bit off part of opponent Evander Holyfield’s ear.