Daniel Kinahan’s statement issued to TalkSport on Monday defending his reputation after being featured in a BBC Panorama investigation has thrown the spotlight on the broadcasters that screen boxing. If Sky Sports and BT Sport thought it would be easy to sit back and ignore all the noise surrounding the Irishman, it just got a bit harder.
Kinahan says he has been involved in boxing for 15 years. Until last year, he had been content to stay in the background. But his decision to play a more prominent role as adviser to a string of boxers, including Tyson Fury and Billy Joe Saunders, has led many to question whether he is the sort of person that should be involved in the sport at all.
Kinahan’s father, Christy, served time in prison for drug smuggling and was said to have set up a huge criminal group. Daniel is now alleged to be in control of that organisation – Panorama called him a “suspected Mob boss” - something he denied in his statement.
Social media has been busy with fighters and ex-fighters giving lavish testimonials over the past few days, from Saunders, to Liam Smith to Amir Khan. That obviously misses the point.
For the past few years, newspapers in Ireland have roared about the Kinahan Cartel and the Kinahan-Hutch feud, a drug war that has led to a frighteningly high body count, including a murder at the Regency Hotel in Dublin in 2016 while a weigh-in was taking place there. It happened two years after Jamie Moore had been shot in Marbella, where he had been training Matthew Macklin at the MGM Gym.
Kinahan has never held a license of any kind with the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC), neither has he ever applied for one. As he does not reside in the UK, he would not qualify anyway.
He was a license holder at one point with the Boxing Union of Ireland, although it is understood that he is not now.
To become a manager with the BBBoC, you need to have held another license with them for three years. But “an adviser” doesn’t need one. “We can’t stop people taking advice from whomever they want to,” Robert Smith, general secretary of the BBBoC, said.
Kinahan was generally assumed to have been the target of the Regency gunmen. For all the people who have said Kinahan has been and is good for boxing, it is worth noting that no high-profile professional shows have taken place in the Republic of Ireland since the Regency shooting. Even Katie Taylor, a national hero, has never boxed in her homeland as a professional.
In 2019, two speaking events featuring Fury were called off in Cork and Dublin after graffiti targeting Fury and MTK Global were found at the venues.
Last May, Sky Dublin’s office were the subject of a graffiti attack, with messages about Kinahan and MTK Global daubed outside. One message said: “Sky staff not safe”. The incident left some at the company feeling unsettled.
Kinahan, it is worth saying, does not have a criminal record. All those allegations about Kinahan have not been proved in court, although there seems to be no rush to return to his homeland in order to clear his name.
After the Regency shooting, several big names in the sport were keen to say that it had “nothing to do with boxing”.
But the knock-on effect could be felt by boxing if the broadcasters feel uncomfortable with the connection. Sky Sports and BT Sport are part of big corporate entities and while they might have been happy to ignore all of this when Kinahan was a figure in the background, they might feel that they need to confront it soon. The more Kinahan and the boxers play up his role, the more the matter comes to the fore.
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for Boxing Scene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.