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Frank Warren, co-promoter
"This fight will be a great commercial success for Glasgow"
 real 28k

The Tyson row
Labour MPs Marie Fyfe and Jimmy Wray clash over boxer Mike Tyson's scheduled fight in Glasgow
 real 28k

Monday, 22 May, 2000, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Tyson fight gets dirty
Frank Warren
Frank Warren targeted the SNP during conference
The controversy over Mike Tyson's planned fight in Glasgow has deepened, with politicians and the boxer's supporters embroiled in increasingly bitter exchanges.

With a month to go before the bout against Lou Saverese, MPs and fight co-promoter Frank Warren have been pulling no punches in fighting their respective corners.

Speaking at Hampden Park, where the fight is set to be staged, Mr Warren welcomed the decision to grant Tyson, a convicted rapist, a visa to enter the UK.

Maria Fyfe
Maria Fyfe: Underworld allegation

Mr Warren said people were entitled to express the view that Tyson should not be allowed in because of his criminal record.

But he said Tyson had served his time and launched a bitter tirade against the Scottish National Party in particular, whose MSPs have condemned Home Secretary Jack Straw's visa decision.

Mr Warren accused the party of double standards in fighting actor Sean Connery's corner for a knighthood.

He said: "He (Connery) once made certain statements about women, yet he was supported by MPs from the SNP for his knighthood."

SNP justice spokeswoman, Roseanna Cunningham, accused Mr Warren of seeking to put up a smokescreen with unsubstantiated allegations.

She said: "It's obviously in Frank Warren's interest to divert attention away from Mike Tyson on to somebody else but I would very much hope that but I would very much hope people didn't fall into that trap."

There was further acrimony later in the House of Commons, when Glasgow Maryhill MP, Maria Fyfe, alleged that one of the individuals involved in promoting the fight had underworld links.

Jack Straw
Jack Straw: Sought to defend position

With Mr Straw under fire over the visa decision, Mrs Fyfe used parliamentary privilege during question time to make the accusation, but failed to name exactly who she meant.

Mrs Fyfe asked whether Mr Straw had considered the policing requirements needed for the fight.

She added: "Are you aware that one of the promoters of this fight has a violent criminal past and has connections with Glasgow's criminal underworld?"

Mr Straw, who allowed Tyson into the UK to fight Julius Francis earlier in the year, said he had considered all the arguments for and against this latest visa application and could see no legal reason not to grant it.

However, he hinted that he may consider changes in immigration laws to stop any further applications.

He said: "Above all I had to take account of whether in this particular case Mr Tyson's entry would pose a risk to the safety of the public and on the basis of the history of this application and the need for fairness and consistency I took the decision that I did."

Mr Straw also said that he had laid before the house a consultative document proposing changes in the immigration rules and their more consistent application in the future.

Jimmy Wray
Jimmy Wray: Condemned MSPs

During the media conference at Hampden, Mr Warren was accompanied by Glasgow Baillieston MP, Jimmy Wray, who had earlier described Scots parliamentarians as "a bunch of cackling geese" for criticising Mr Straw.

Mr Wray said: "The people who are making the noise made not a cheep when he came to fight in Manchester."

The former boxer said the reason he had become involved in the affair, through a private meeting with Mr Straw in the run-up to the decision, was to avoid the "fiasco" surrounding Tyson's application to fight in Manchester.

Mr Wray also described the offence for which Tyson was convicted as "a misdemeanour" but, when questioned about that description, withdrew it and said: "It is a serious offence. If I used the word misdemeanour I did not mean to belittle it."

Mr Warren said the fight on 24 June would be a sell-out before a 58,000 crowd with millions of others watching on TV worldwide.

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See also:

21 May 00 | Scotland
Straw in private Tyson talks
20 May 00 | Scotland
Tyson ticket hotline inundated
19 May 00 | Scotland
Women plan Tyson 'confrontation'
19 May 00 | Scotland
Hampden named as Tyson venue
18 May 00 | Scotland
Tyson cleared for UK fight
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