SYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s scathing speech against sexism won unlikely backing from controversial former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson Sunday, who said history was on her side.
Tyson, who was sentenced to six years in prison in 1992 for raping an 18-year-old woman, said he watched Gillard’s speech against misogyny on television in Australia, where he is on a speaking tour and thought she had a point.
“I’m not saying she’s right personally, but history proves she’s right,” Tyson told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, describing Gillard’s appointment as Australia’s first female leader as “wonderful for the country.”
“I’m not saying that I’m on her side, I’m just going by the facts of what history proves, that most males are that way.”
Tyson said men “can’t help that, society told us to be that way” and it was up to individuals to “within ourselves overcome that thinking, change that thinking, and then everybody might be on equal terms.”
“Sometimes we just get caught up with our society,” he added.
The convicted rapist conceded that he “can’t judge nobody, I have my own history with people and crime and women and everything”.
Tyson was recently refused a visa to New Zealand due to his rape conviction and was only allowed into Australia on the grounds he would behave.
He said he was in the “best state I’ve ever seen myself in” and vowed that he would not be caught in strip clubs and nightclubs or “getting high” while in Australia.
Gillard’s withering attack accusing her conservative opponent Tony Abbott of misogyny and sexism in parliament last week was hailed by critics in the United States and Britain, with feminist blog Jezebel labelling her a “badass”.
Video of the speech went viral in Australia and across the world, triggering an outpouring on social media sites.
But Australian pundits accused Gillard of hypocrisy because the speech was made in defence of parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper, who resigned over lurid text messages referencing female genitalia amid a gay sex harassment scandal.