The latest company to distance themselves from Daniel Kinahan is one that has been linked to the controversial figure since its inception.
Upstart promotional outfit Probellum made a public statement for the first time since the U.S. Department of Treasury announced Monday evening that sanctions were placed on Kinahan and six other members allegedly serving as key members of the Kinahan Organized Crime Group (KOCG). The sanctions in place block all properties in the U.S. attached to KOCG, along with its doing business with anyone within jurisdiction of the ruling.
The U.S. Department of State has since announced a reward of up to $5,000,000 for information leading to the financial disruption of KOCG, or the arrest and/or conviction of Kinahan, his father Christy Sr. and brother Christy Jr.
Several industry members have since spoken of the development, with Probellum the latest in stating that the company “takes the sanctions made by the US Treasury extremely seriously and the business and its employees will be fully compliant with them. We have retained counsel in the US to ensure that we fully comply with all rules, regulations and requirements related to this matter, including not working with any individual or company that has been placed under US sanctions.
“This includes Daniel Kinahan and we can confirm that we will not have any business relationship or communication with him whatsoever.”
Probellum was formed in 2021, immediately going on a signing spree that included several fighters from MTK Global—a managerial company which was co-founded by Kinahan in 2012. Several MTK fighters have openly discussed working relationships and friendships with Kinahan, though Probellum has repeatedly denied any direct ties with Irish businessman and accused crime lord.
That has not prevented industry-wide speculation to the contrary, in part supported by Kinahan having been spotted at their recent events in Dubai where he has lived since 2016. The two most recent shows took place March 18 and 19, attended by Kinahan as well as Rai Taimoor Khan, the Provincial Minister of Punjab for Youth Affairs, Sports, Archaeology and Tourism.
Khan tweeted pictures he took with Kinahan, though specifying a meeting with “Probellum on aligning vision on boxing for Punjab & how to make this sport bigger for our youth. Looking forward to hosting Daniel in Lahore to discuss Pakistan’s first International fight with foreign world class boxers InshAllah. Will share more info in the upcoming weeks.”
Probellum never formally addressed the claim, but felt compelled to do so in light of the same alignment suggested by Bob Arum, who publicly admitted to a working relationship with Kinahan in 2020 and who never shied away from that claim until the recent sanctions placed by the U.S. Treasury. The Hall of Fame promoter has since distanced himself from Kinahan, recently telling BoxingScene’s Keith Idec that his Top Rank company is “gonna follow our government. Period. End of story. Which means you can’t have business with the guy, and you’ve got to observe what the authorized representatives of the government have mandated.
“You’re either on board or you’re not on board.”
Arum also mentioned his company looking to distance itself from MTK, with whom Top Rank and network partner ESPN—through its ESPN+ app—has done frequent business together in the past several years. ESPN+ has ceased airing MTK Global shows in recent months.
Top Rank still has several fighters who are also signed with MTK and/or with Kinahan himself, including lineal/WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (31-0-1, 22KOs) and undisputed junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor (19-0, 13KOs). Fury is due to defend his title versus Dillian Whyte on April 23 at Wembley Stadium in London, though Arum claimed that “[n]obody had anything to do with making that fight other than Queensberry’s Frank Warren and ourselves. It wasn’t even a negotiated thing. It was a purse bid. This guy from Dubai [Kinahan] had absolutely nothing to do with it. I never discussed it with him. Neither did Frank. So, again, I don’t think it’s an issue.”
There are ongoing discussions of an alleged exit strategy with any fighters tied to Kinahan beyond its current obligations such as Fury-Whyte and any remaining fights owed to fighters under the Top Rank banner.
“The lawyers are looking into it,” Arum told BoxingScene.com on Tuesday. “Those are serious problems that have to be explored because, obviously, MTK and Probellum appear to be entities that he’s involved with. And, in which case, then it’s a no-no to deal with them.”
That suggestion was challenged by Probellum who claim that “Bob Arum’s comments implying that Top Rank has ceased a business relationship with Probellum are baseless.”
The lone piece of business involving both Top Rank and Probellum is a June 7 three-belt bantamweight championship unification rematch between WBA/IBF champ Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19KOs) and WBC titlist Nonito Donaire (42-6, 28KOs) in Saitama, Japan.
Inoue entered a co-promotional agreement with Top Rank in November 2019, with the deal announced minutes after the pound-for-pound entrant’s thrilling win over Donaire in their first fight. Donaire signed with Probellum through his longtime working relationship with Richard Schaefer, a founding member of the promotional outlet with whom Arum has regarded as a contentious rival for the better part of the past 20 years.
The fight was reported by BoxingScene.com on March 30, though so far only announced by Amazon Prime who will carry the event live in Japan. U.S. televised/streaming rights have not yet been announced, nor has the fight itself by either Top Rank or Probellum.
“Top Rank is a competitor and since Probellum’s inception, Top Rank has never worked directly with us,” Probellum revealed. “Any suggestions that Daniel Kinahan is a shareholder or owner of Probellum are false and defamatory.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox