UPDATE: Following the publication of this article Peter Fuiry was granted a special direction allowing him to enter New Zealand for Joseph Parker’s world heavyweight title fight.

Fury had been declined entry to New Zealand on character grounds On Friday evening Associate Minister of Immigration David Bennett granted Fury a special direction granting him a visitor visa to New Zealand.

COMMENT: The decision to deny Peter Fury entry to New Zealand to serve as son Hughie’s cornerman for the WBO world title fight against Joseph Parker in May jeopardises this country’s hosting of a major global sporting event.

It is typical of the bureaucratic, liberal-leaning, election-conscious hypocrisy that has characterised far too many government institution decisions in recent times.

Immigration New Zealand officials decided Peter Fury’s presence was too great a risk for our citizenry. Now the Fury camp will be weighing up the risk of sending Hughie up against Parker in hostile territory without his father and mentor.

Worst case scenario, this ridiculous decision could derail the bout.

A disclaimer here. In my capacity as someone who works in the boxing industry, I wrote a letter to Immigration NZ lobbying for Peter Fury to be allowed to enter our country. I genuinely believe he poses no threat, and that his presence here would be of benefit to the promotion – and consequently the country.

Boxing is often cast as a sport of redemption, offering discipline and opportunity to blue collar people on the fringes of society. Peter Fury is a classic example of this, having been jailed for 10 years as a pretty serious drug dealer in 1995 and serving a further two years in 2008 for money laundering (though this was through retrospective legislation so in a sense Fury was convicted twice for the same crimes). On his second release in 2010, he was ordered to pay more than a million pounds to the UK Government and submit his financial records for nine years – an order with which he has fully complied.

For seven years now, Fury has kept his nose clean. He has publicly denounced his former life, turned to god and carved out an extremely lucrative niche as one of the world best boxing trainers and managers.

Loathe to risk all the good work he has done in rebuilding himself with a casual association, he’s extremely cautious about associating with people who have anything to do with his former life. He’s also been vocal about his mistakes and how much he lost as a consequence of his time in prison.

“You’re in hell on earth,” he said of prison. “That man sat next to you can easily put a knife through your neck because they’re in for life and are in despair with nothing to lose.

“Going inside made me realise what life was about and what I was missing. They say bad things can turn into good things. Unless you’ve had that experience, you don’t realise how good life can be.”

Of course, these are only words, but his words are backed by actions, and Peter Fury’s redemption has been an open book for the world to see.

Fury joins Chris Brown, who was rebuffed in 2015, and convicted rapist, Mike Tyson (2012), on the list of high-profile people denied entry to New Zealand. The difference here is that Tyson has always denied the rape, and Brown continues to pump out misogynist bile unrepentantly in numerous lyrical tirades against women. There are “lack of repentance” reasons for not allowing Tyson and Brown in.

Interestingly, rapper Snoop Dogg, who has numerous drug and violence convictions in addition to admitting pimping women as recently as 2003, was allowed to tour here in 2008 and 2014.

A risk of reoffending while in New Zealand is one of the critical factors to be considered in application for a special direction (visa dispensation). Domestic abuse and rape are typically crimes of both passion and opportunism with far greater likelihood of reoffending. In contrast, I hardly see Peter Fury taking time out of training his son and promotional duties to flog off a bit of Columbia’s finest on Queen Street.

The decision is a substantial blow to Hughie Fury’s camp. If the fight proceeds, as appears likely, the 22-year-old challenger will face the most important bout of his career, on foreign soil, without his key man in his corner.

This cannot be understated, as the coaching relationship between fighter and trainer is as complex and intimate as any marriage. Trust in a trainers’ vision and voice can be the difference between winning and losing at this level. Let’s not forget that it was Peter Fury who masterminded Tyson Fury’s raid on Wladimir Klitscho in Dusseldorf in 2015, which set off the heavyweight title lolly grab that has since ensued. He is with out a doubt one of the most astute minds in the boxing game today and will be sorely missed.

The Fury had planned a month-long camp in New Zealand to acclimatise and take full part in the promotion of the event. The logistics and location of that camp has been thrown into disarray, as will event promotions in the weeks leading up. The value of the whole Fury entourage – including perhaps the incorrigible but box-office Tyson – would have been tremendous for the event, not to mentioning highly entertaining for all concerned. A stack of media gold has likely slipped through promoters Duco’s fingertips.

Although the cards are now stacked against Hughie, my money is on the fight proceeding. Mandatory opportunities don’t come along everyday and this is a huge opportunity. Hughie’s purse at $US 1.2 million is easily the biggest of his career. And, at 22, Fury has plenty of time to regroup if he loses.

The Fury camp will also be well aware that a Tyson Fury vs Parker avenging match is a promotional goldmine in the longer term.

I expect the Fury team to appeal the decision in the coming days, but overturning these decisions is extremely rare, and I doubt there will be a change of heart.

Let’s just hope the show will indeed go on.

Mike Angove is a former kickboxing world champion. He coaches professional kickboxers, MMA fighters and boxers, and is a combat sports television analyst.

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