AN EVENT with former boxing champion Mike Tyson at Portsmouth Guildhall has been cancelled.
Portsmouth Cultural Trust, which runs the Guildhall, made the decision after a petition was set up by domestic and sexual violence support charity Aurora New Dawn to protest against his appearance. It has gathered 3,199 signatures in a fortnight.
Organisers say they will change the venue to elsewhere in Hampshire – possibly Fareham Town FC – but have not yet finalised where.
Tyson was the youngest man to win the world heavyweight title at the age of 20, but was jailed for six years in 1992 for raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant.
Chief executive of the Portsmouth-based charity, Shonagh Dillon, branded his appearance at one of the city’s biggest venues a contradiction to the work the charity does within Portsmouth to protect women against violence.
She said: ‘We are delighted that the city council and Portsmouth Guildhall have decided to cancel the Mike Tyson event. This illustrates Portsmouth’s commitment to end violence against women, which was recognised in 2010 when the city was awarded national White Ribbon status – the only city with this award on the south coast.
‘We have been overwhelmed by the support for the petition from residents of Portsmouth and beyond, and we are glad and grateful that the Guildhall decided to listen to their voices.’
Marelize de Beurs, from Portsmouth Cultural Trust, said the decision was made after it learned of controversial comments Tyson has made in recent years. She would not elaborate on the nature of the comments.
She said: ‘In light of comments attributed to Mike Tyson the trust decided that it would be in the best interest of Portsmouth Guildhall not to go ahead with the event.
‘The World Class Boxing Council, which is promoting the event, had been given the option of replacing Mr Tyson with another boxer but the organisation has decided to move the event instead.
‘The Guildhall box office will be contacting ticket holders to inform them of the change of venue. Patrons will be entitled to a full refund.’
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