Daniel Kinahan has taken his most direct approach yet to address serious allegations surrounding his name outside of boxing.
Continued efforts are made by those close to the co-founding member of MTK Global (Mack The Knife Global, previously known as MGM [Macklin’s Gym Marballa] upon its 2012 launch) to clear his name or at least dismiss any suggested involvement in criminal activity. The latest step is taken by Kinahan himself, in the form of a prepared first-person statement specifically addressing said issues which have long alleged his role as the leader of a reputed crime family in Ireland.
“I have tried my best to ignore the allegations that are constantly made about me,” Kinahan stated in a statement read aloud by TalkSport.com employees during the outlet’s news segment Monday morning. “I have dedicated myself to my work in boxing for over 15 years. I have started from the bottom and worked my way up. I am proud to say today that I have helped organize over a dozen major world title fights.
“I continue to be involved in planning multiple record-breaking and exciting world title fights: I’m doing all I can to give fight fans around the world the fights they want. My professional commitment is always to the boxers, those who take the ultimate risk.”
The claims made in the statement provided by Kinahan—who is now based out of Dubai—are in line with those made by his most ardent supporters, including several of the most high-profile boxers in direct connection with the Dubliner.
Unbeaten two-division and reigning super middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14KOs)—who fights under the MTK banner—remains the most vocal on the topic, while lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs) has previously acknowledged Kinahan’s role as his personal adviser although he has not publicly commented on the subject in recent months.
Others in the sport not directly tied to MTK though whom have conducted past business with Kinahan have also spoken in a similar tone. Former 140-pound titlist Amir Khan—whose career has never been linked to MTK or Kinahan in any way—also felt compelled to sing his praises.
“I’ve known Daniel for [some time},” Khan claimed through social media in a quoted retweet of the TalkSport segment. “I have huge respect for what he’s doing for boxing.
“We need people like Dan to keep the sport alive. One of the nicest guys I’ve met.”
A fresh news cycle reintroducing past allegations made against the 43-year old Irishman, however, have prompted a more direct approach by the accused party.
“I’m Irish. I was born and raised in Dublin. In a deprived area with serious levels of poverty, of crime, of under investment,” notes Kinahan. “People like me, from there, aren’t expected to do anything with their lives other than serve the middle and upper classes. Boxing is a working class sport for which I’ve had a lifelong love and passion. I love the sport of boxing but didn’t love how business was done. Many boxers have similar backgrounds to me.
“I got into boxing to make sure that boxers get fairly rewarded and not taken advantage of. The boxers put their lives on the line. It’s my mission to ensure that the boxers are financially secure when they finish boxing, and healthy too. Let’s not forget – the money in boxing is put there one way or another by the fans, sponsors and TV companies – not by me or anyone else – and they put it there to watch the fighters. The fighters deserve their fair share.”
Kinahan and MTK played a significant role not only in resurrecting Fury’s career but also rescuing from him a destructive lifestyle on the verge of a tragic ending.
Years later—though for significantly different reasons—Fury would play an integral role in reintroducing Kinahan’s name to the boxing public.
The two-time and current heavyweight king took to his social media channels last spring to reveal the news that a deal was struck for a long-craved all-British heavyweight championship showdown with unified titlist Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22KOs). Fury specified Kinahan as personally delivering the news of bringing the fight to reality, marking the first time since 2017 where the self-described Irish businessman was intimately involved with the day-to-day operations of any boxer under the MTK Global banner.
The company formerly known as MGM would announce a name change and new management with it in 2017. Sandra Vaughan purchased the company and assumed the role of CEO, while changing the name to MTK—an acronym for Mack The Knife, the ring moniker of former middleweight contender Matthew Macklin who co-founded MGM with Kinahan in 2012. The decision to rebrand and change up at the top level was agreed as the most appropriate move in the best interest of the management company which now represents more than 200 fighters in boxing and mixed martial arts.
Kinahan was on board—at least publicly—with separating himself from the company as suggestions continued to run rampant of his involvement in organized crime. To this day, they remain claims that are continually dismissed as unfounded by those closest to the polarizing figure.
On this particular day, it is now a topic which Kinahan himself has chosen to address.
“I firmly believe that my success has led to an increase in the campaign against me,” insists Kinahan. “Pretty much anything can be said about me, or inferred about me, and it goes unchallenged and is sadly believed. Last week it was inferred that I had threatened a reporter.”
The statement refers to an incident stemming from a hard-hitting report on Panorama, an investigative series which airs on BBC One in the United Kingdom. An hour-long segment–titled ‘Boxing and the Mob’—ran last Monday, going into great detail in exposing the years-long charges introduced against Kinahan and the ongoing gangland feud between the Kinahan and Hutch crime families—the latter run by reputed Irish mobster Gerry Hutch.
Upwards of 20 lives have been claimed in the years-long feud, which is said to have intensified since the September 2015 murder of Gary Hutch, nephew to the aforementioned crime lord.
The harshest impact felt on the boxing side from the ongoing bloody rivalry came in February 2016, when then-rising Irish lightweight Jamie Kavanagh was due to headline a show at the National Stadium in Dublin. The event was shut down following a shooting at the pre-fight weigh-in at nearby Regency Hotel. An attack by armed Irish gangsters, including at least two who posed as Gardai—Ireland’s police service—frighteningly disrupted the event, with the belief of Kinahan being the target of an assassination attempt. Three people were shot including the murder of David Byrne, whose brother Liam was named by Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau as “a trusted lieutenant of… the Kinahan Organized Crime group” through its Byrne Organized Crime subsidiary.
A short documentary-style feature reliving the horrific event made the rounds last spring, which was posted on Scarcity Studios’ YouTube channel. The anonymously submitted video theorizes that the bloody incident wasn’t the result of a gangland hit but rather a political conspiracy motivated to drive the results of an upcoming election later that spring.
The video was taken down days later due to a complaint filed against YouTube by Dublin-based media publisher Independent News and Media.
Days after the Panorama segment aired, BBC reported that a reporter who worked on the segment was notified by Northern Ireland police of “an unspecified threat from unnamed criminal elements in relation to the [program].”
Along with attempting to disassociate himself from any claims of criminal activity, Kinahan felt the need to address his regards to working media—while also dismissing the claims raised in the aforementioned investigative report.
“Let me be clear on this point before I address the other allegations against me. I have full respect for journalism,” suggests Kinahan. “I have worked with journalists and I value their role. Journalists should always be free to do their job, free from any threat or harassment. I have never threatened a reporter or journalist or asked anyone to do that for me. I never have and I never would.
“My concern is that I have not been on the receiving end of fair and credible journalism, especially in the UK and Ireland. The recent BBC Panorama program is a good example. This was a rehash of unsubstantiated allegations that have been made previously on many occasions. It was unashamedly sensationalist and devoid of evidence or critical analysis. They refused to publish the statement I made in advance of the program or even question the fundamental claim that “an Irish court accepted…” That Irish Court is the SCC, a court with no jury and which accepts the word of police officers without question. It is criticized by both the UN and Amnesty International. This latest report follows a long pattern of throwing innuendo and baseless accusations at me hoping that some may stick.”
At the time of the ownership and management change at the top level of MTK, a near-year long ban was enforced by the company with the Irish media. Claims of published harassment and “widespread media propaganda” were cited among other reasons for the stance before Bob Yalen—who was hired as president of MTK in October 2018—lifted the ban in Jan. 2019 in his best efforts to repair the contentious relationship.
“Irish boxing will always remain close to the heart of MTK,” stated Yalen, who has since replaced Vaughan as CEO, effective last June. “It would be nice to be free to operate there as we do in every other country in the world and my hope is that the Irish press will support our efforts to do so.”
While the state of such a relationship depends on the viewpoint, boxing in the Republic of Ireland remains virtually non-existent in the aftermath of the aforementioned Regency shootout.
The juryless Special Criminal Court in Ireland has been called into question by many over the years. However, it was the Irish High Court who identified Kinahan as having a controlling and managing role in the Kinahan Organized Crime gang which was previously led by his father, convicted Irish drug dealer Christy ‘Dapper Don’ Kinahan.
Regardless, the very activity is one which he has outright dismissed.
“I can’t be any clearer on the fundamental slur – I am not a part of a criminal gang or any conspiracy,” insists Kinahan. “I have no convictions. None. Not just in Ireland but anywhere in the world. Media outlets link my name with criminality unconnected to me. I am not involved in any proceedings therefore I am unable to challenge this in court. The media know this yet they refuse to acknowledge it. There is no evidence or proof against me. I have said repeatedly: I have no criminal record anywhere in the world. Sections of the media ask that I disprove a negative. This is impossible but it shows what I’m up against.
“People need to ask themselves – If he has done the things he has been accused of why has he not been arrested and charged? Why does a police organization anywhere in the world not have this information and evidence some sections of the media would have you believe actually exists. Why is there only a trial by media and not a criminal trial? There is a simple answer to this. That answer is because there is no evidence. It’s because it is not true.”
Such matters will obviously have to be proven by measures other than press statements. In the meantime, it remains clear that Kinahan enjoys his role as an adviser to many prominent boxing figures within the company he co-founded—even if no longer self-identified as playing a role in its day-to-day operations, despite public suggestion to the contrary.
“I’m blessed with an amazing family. I’m blessed to work in boxing at the highest level having organized some of the biggest fights in boxing previously and in the future,” notes Kinahan. “I will continue working every day to bring out the best in, and look after, the boxers I am lucky enough to work with.
“I have chosen to dedicate my life to my family and my work. I do so every day in good and honest faith. I will continue to always choose love and choose God in my future as I do in my present.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox