Malawi has defended a decision to appoint former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson as its ambassador for the country’s new marijuana industry.
The government had faced criticism from US based activist and former Republican presidential candidate John Kasich, who condemned the appointment as “slightly bizarre”.
Malawi’s Minister of Health, Nicholas Dausi, says Tyson’s foray into the sector “brings dignity to Malawi.”
Tyson is one of several high-profile athletes to have been appointed ambassadors for other businesses and states.
As ambassador for the Malawi hemp project, the former boxer has said he is committed to helping the country produce more of the crop.
Tyson, 50, was the only boxer to ever win all of the major heavyweight boxing titles and made his debut for world champion World Boxing Association at 17.
He remains the only American boxer to hold the WBA, IBF, IBO heavyweight titles simultaneously
Malawi’s Minister of Health Nicholas Dausi said he had heard criticisms from abroad, but was convinced “it is appropriate to have the greatest boxer of all time, Mike Tyson, come and partner with us on this programme.”
He added that he would first be dealing with Tyson’s company about the basis for receiving further funding for the effort.
Tyson has also been working as a recovering addict with a substance abuse treatment centre, is an advocate for clean and renewable energy and works with the rapper Snoop Dogg in a HIV/AIDS prevention programme.
He is not the first former world boxing champion to step into the lucrative cannabis industry, with Muhammad Ali working on a marijuana oil business in the US, and being challenged by former world champion Evander Holyfield to a fight.