Officials in Malawi have asked former professional boxer turned cannabis entrepreneur Mike Tyson to serve as the nation’s cannabis ambassador, MMA News reports. The request comes after Malawi legalized medical cannabis last year but also comes with backlash due to Tyson’s 1992 conviction for rape, for which he served three years in prison before being released on parole.
Malawi’s Minister of Gender, Patricia Kaliati, told CNN that the government’s request to the former heavyweight champion is “about business” and the “economic business of cannabis.”
“We look for the prominent people, the decision makers who can say a thing which can be recognized internationally.” — Kaliati to CNN
Kondwani Munthali, acting director of the Malawian think tank, the Centre for Public Accountability (CPA) — which opposes allowing Tyson to serve in the role — said that appointing a convicted rapist would be “wrong.”
“Yes, he paid his debt three years he was in jail, but we are saying to be the face of a nation is something beyond reformatory,” Munthali said in a statement to CNN. “We would want (a) less controversial character than Tyson.”
Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu also defended the offer, telling CNN that “Malawi, as a nation, believes that Mr. Tyson is a right and reformed person as he was released on parole.”
“The moral appeal by some quarters, to continue holding Mr. Tyson to a wall of moral incapacity doesn’t hold water,” Lungu added.
Tyson has not yet publicly responded to the offer from the Malawi government.
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