Daniel Kinahan is once again a man without a country.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has joined in what has now become a global investigation into the life and accused crimes of the controversial Irish businessman who developed deep ties into the boxing world over the past decade. The most significant measures to date have been taken against Kinahan, as the UAE—where Kinahan has lived since 2016—has frozen all identified assets of the Kinahan Organized Crime Group (KOCG) along with issuing sanctions on Kinahan as well as father Christopher Vincent ‘Christy’ Kinahan Sr. and brother Christy Jr.
The development comes as boxing has quickly responded to the sanctions previously placed by the U.S. Department of State on April 12, complete with a reward of up to $5,000,000 for information leading to the financial disruption of the KOCG and all business ties, or the arrest and/or conviction of the three mentioned Kinahan men. Authorities in the U.S., Ireland and the U.K. have continued to apply pressure, with the UAE now cooperating with said officials.
“The relevant authorities cooperate closely on cases involving foreign elements in line with the UAE’s international commitments and national legal framework for combating illicit activity,” a UAE government representative told BoxingScene.com through a provided statement. “In the case of the Kinahan Organised Crime Group, the UAE has been working proactively on its own investigations and as a result of this all relevant assets have been frozen.”
U.S. businesses are already forbidden from conducting business with Kinahan and the six others named as key members of the KOCG, along with three identified businesses. UAE has taken the same measures, which can greatly impact what has become a growing boxing scene in Dubai particularly with the launch of fledging promotional outfit Probellum.
Neither Probellum nor MTK Global—the managerial company co-founded by Kinahan—were sanctioned by any government or yet directly linked to the 44-year-old Irishman. However, both are headquartered in Dubai and carry a paper trail strongly suggesting links.
Probellum has held several shows in Dubai, including a two-night event in March which drew attention in the wrong way. The March 18 and March 19 shows were 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 and Sandra Vaughan, 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.”
Vaughan purchased MTK Global from Matthew Macklin, Kinahan’s close friend and a former middleweight title challenger— in 2017. The company was known as MGM Marbella at the time before being renamed to MTK (“Mack The Knife”, after Macklin’s ring moniker). Vaughan assumed the role of CEO before stepping down from the position in 2020, though it’s clear that she and Kinahan remain at least friendly, and influential enough for the Punjabi provincial minister to believe they represented Probellum in their meeting.
The matter was chalked up by Probellum officials as a mistaken classification, going into greater detail only after Top Rank founder and chairman Bob Arum insisted that Kinahan “100 percent” still runs both Probellum and MTK.
“Top Rank is a competitor and since Probellum’s inception, Top Rank has never worked directly with us,” Probellum revealed in a nameless statement on April 13. “Any suggestions that Daniel Kinahan is a shareholder or owner of Probellum are false and defamatory.”
That will certainly have to ring true moving forward, as UAE’s sanctions make it a punishable offense for any individuals or companies to do business with any person or property tied to the Kinahan cartel.
It has been suggested by the Irish media that UAE officials are strongly considering turning over the Kinahans to authorities in Ireland, where they were long ago named by the High Court as overseers of a murderous drug trafficking organization. For now, UAE—which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.—is fully cooperating with authorities in the U.S., U.K., Ireland and Spain.
Probellum remains active in boxing, though all eyes are on the first-year outfit to see how far it can go with the number of fighters under its banner and promotional alignments it has secured around the world. The company is already losing business, however; a previously announced five-fight card deal with Eurosport was recently dissolved by the Warner Bros. owned company with two shows remaining under the previous agreement, including this Friday’s card in Liverpool which now lacks a TV home.
Probellum previously announced TV deals with fuboTV in North America and ESPN Knockout in Latin America. Both platforms carried the March 18 and March 19 shows from Dubai; neither are involved in Friday’s card in Liverpool.
Still, the company employs a number of fighters and managers who were previously with MTK Global which announced Wednesday its plans to cease operations by the end of the month.
At its peak, MTK housed more than 300 fighters, including lineal/WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (31-0-1, 22KOs) of Manchester, England who defends his title versus countryman Dillian Whyte (28-2, 19KOs). Their heavyweight championship tops a Pay-Per-View event (BT Sport in the UK, ESPN+ in the U.S.) from Wembley Stadium, where a record crowd of 94,000 is expected to attend what has been hailed the biggest all-British heavyweight championship since Lennox Lewis-Frank Bruno in 1993.
Fight week has been rightly marred by a swarm of questions surrounding Kinahan’s past relationship with Fury and co-promoters Queensberry Promotions and Top Rank. Fury has been surly yet intentionally deceptive in his responses, at one point claiming to have ended his professional relationship with Kinahan in 2020 despite being spotted with him as recently as February, and on other occasions insisting it was nobody’s business, to the point of shutting down interviews and threatening to never again conduct a one-on-one session with Sky Sports.
Arum has repeatedly gone on record to state his full cooperation with U.S. authorities, including his revealing to Irish Mirror chief reporter John Hand that he has paid up to $8,000,000 in advisory fees to Kinahan for Fury’s past four fights with Top Rank since signing with the Las Vegas-based company in 2019.
It has yet to be confirmed what will happen to the hundreds of fighters previously under the MTK banner, particularly those who didn’t have a specific promotional home.
Probellum’s website no longer lists any events on its schedule beyond Friday’s show. The company is assigned as a co-promoter to a May 1 event in Nicaragua along with Bufalo Boxing Promotions, one of 21 outfits still listed as a proud Probellum partner.
The next boxing event of any kind in Dubai is scheduled to take place May 14 on a helipad atop the Burj Al Arab Hotel.
The event is headlined by Hall of Fame former five-division champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (50-0, 27KOs), who will face ‘Dangerous’ Don Moore (18-0-1, 12KOs) atop the inaugural ‘Global Titans Fight Series.’ The press release for the event—which was distributed by Swanson Communications—indicates that it will be presented by FrontRowTMT and ROQU Media.
Probellum is not involved in the event, though does feature at least one of its fighters—former two-division titlist Badou Jack, who used to fight under the Mayweather Promotions and has advertised a working relationship with Kinahan since 2020.
Any such links will be undoubtedly vetted prior to fight night, assuming the show goes forward. The same will apply for any boxing event anywhere in the world involving fighters, managers or promoters known to have worked with Kinahan prior to the U.S. sanctions in place.
As for Kinahan himself, a hard decision will have to be made in the coming days—whether to surrender, to stay put and hope to continue to avoid extradition, or to pack up and find a new home. Whatever the case, his days in boxing—and most certainly at its most relevant level—are through.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox