People should be allowed to make their own decision

BLAISE TAPP: 'Tis the season to be more giving to the lonely

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We are disappointed that Mike Tyson is to appear in a show at Portsmouth Guildhall – part of the travelling circus that earns money for a man who now trades stories rather than punches.

Actually, in his boxing career he didn’t so much trade punches as land them during a meteoric rise to be heavyweight champion of the world.

There was something mean and nasty in the street fighter image of ‘Iron Mike’ and few if any could get anywhere close to stopping him in his tracks as he pummelled his way to the top.

Such is the stuff of which legends are made – the snarling kid from Brooklyn, New York who emerged from a childhood of hardship and petty crime to become one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport.

Mike Tyson’s aura of nastiness helped make him a huge box office hit.

And he carries with him in retirement that menacing persona that no doubt helps sell tickets to his shows.

He carries too, though, a conviction for rape, and it is that offence that makes his appearances all the more controversial.

There are those who argue that Portsmouth City Council should not allow him to appear at the Guildhall, charging a pretty penny for his insights into his life.

Perhaps that should be the case, although we would question how far the council would then need to go with other entertainers who have an ignominious past. Would anyone with any conviction be banned and, if not, where would the line be drawn?

Better, we feel, that the council allows people to vote with their feet. If sufficient of us are outraged at the paid appearance in the city of a convicted rapist and decide that, whatever our interest in boxing, we will not give money to a man convicted of a heinous crime, then the argument on whether Tyson should be banned would be rendered academic.

Sluggish ticket sales would reduce his box office appeal to a point at which it was no longer commercially viable to stage the show, whatever the moral debate over the issue.