Murder, Drugs, and Intimidation: Meet Boxing's New Kingmaker Daniel Kinahan

Murder, Drugs, and Intimidation: Meet Boxing’s New Kingmaker Daniel Kinahan

  • Anthony Joshua
  • Bob Arum
  • Daniel Kinahan
  • Eddie Hearn
  • KHK Sports
  • Kinahan Cartel
  • MGM Boxing
  • MTK Global
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Sugar Ray Leonard
  • Tyson Fury
By Nick Holz June 19, 2020 0 Comment
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The Man Behind the Mask

A two fight deal for clashes between British heavyweights Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua has finally come to fruition. In a video posted to his social media last Wednesday, WBC heavyweight champion Fury offered “a big shout out…to Dan” for his efforts in negotiating the battle of titans. Fury said Daniel Kinahan had just informed him “the biggest fight in British boxing history has just been agreed”. The development is widely seen in Ireland as the latest example of Daniel Kinahan attempting to engineer his reputation globally. Sports pages and blogs have recently lauded the 42 year-old as the only man capable of organizing one of the most anticipated bouts in boxing history. But who is Daniel Kinahan?

Politicians, police officers and the public in Ireland are eager for the outside world get to know what they call the real Daniel Kinahan. Daniel is the eldest son of drug kingpin, Christy “Dapper Don” Kinahan. Kinahan first came to worldwide prominence in Ireland in February 2016 when gunmen attacked a boxing weigh-in at a hotel in Dublin. The shooting resulted in the murder of a top lieutenant of the Kinahan crime cartel in Ireland. The immediate aftermath of the shooting, as spectators fled in fear, was caught on camera and the footage went viral. Daniel is believed to have been the intended target. That attack was part of a feud between the Hutch and Kinahan gangs that has claimed at least 18 lives.

The Kinahan Cartel

While Daniel has no criminal convictions, he is believed to be the head of a massive drug empire, which he inherited from his father. The Kinahan gang have blood on their hands and an estimated $1 billion in ill-gotten wealth. In 2019, in unpublished High Court of Ireland rulings obtained by the Irish Times, it was stated he controlled the Kinahan crime gang, which was involved in drugs and weapons smuggling on a global scale. A month earlier, a Spanish police officer told a court in Marbella, Spain that Kinahan had ordered the murder of gang rival Gary Hutch in 2015.

The Criminal Assets Bureau, part of the Irish police, the Garda Síochána, has said he “controlled and managed” the operations of the family crime syndicate and “has associations that facilitate international criminal activity in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America”.  In November 2019, Europol identified the gang linked to Kinahan as one of the main cocaine importers in Europe, adding that it now smuggled its surplus supplies to countries as far away as Australia.

However, law enforcement has recorded a number of meaningful victories against the crime syndicate. The cooperation of international police forces has led to a determination to thwart their reign of misery. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of drugs have been seized and major players have been jailed, but the gang’s leader continues to operate from the Middle East.

Boxing Management

Kinahan has used the wealth he accumulated through the drug trade to buy his way into the upper echelon of professional boxing. Daniel co-founded the MGM boxer management company, turned MTK Global after they, allegedly, cut ties with him in 2017. MTK Global represents a number of high profile Irish fighters including Carl Frampton, Paddy Barnes and Jamie Conlan. Tyson Fury is simply the most famous boxer of the MTK stable. MTK manage over a hundred boxers and have nine locations in London, Marbella, Dubai, Johannesburg, Manchester and New York.

Originally known as MGM, the gym was set up with former boxer Matthew Macklin. The Macklin Gym Marbella or MGM changed its name to MTK after the killing of David Byrne in 2016. Daniel has since distanced himself from the company and has remained in exile in Dubai.

Bringing Boxing to Arabian Nights

In May of this year, a sports company founded by the Prince of Bahrain hired Kinahan as a special adviser. KHK Sports referred to Kinahan as an “international boxing power broker” when announcing his new role. The icing on the cake came on a few weeks ago when MTK announced it was partnering with him and KHK to stage bouts in the Middle East.

Kinahan, a known drug kingpin, is deeply entrenched in the highest levels of the sport of boxing. So much so, that he is brokering massive money fights. All the while, the authorities can do very little to stop him. Kinahan has now organized a deal between his former company, MTK, and KHK Sports, owned by Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, a member of the Bahraini royal family. The landmark accord will bring pay-per-view boxing to the Middle East. The new partners also plan to host a summit of the most prestigious promoters in world boxing. Kinahan, while running a drug cartel, rubs shoulders with royalty, and some of the most prominent people in boxing.

Fury vs Joshua

There’s no denying it. Kinahan has now become an influential figure in the sport. Tyson Fury has credited Kinahan for organizing his sensational two-fight deal with Anthony Joshua for next year. He has, unbelievably, used his wealth and influence to become a major fight broker. Kinahan apparently helped to bridge the gap between the two fighters’ promoters. Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter and Fury’s, Frank Warren, despise each other due to a family feud that goes back nearly 30 years. Somehow, the man at the very epicenter of the boxing world has thanked a criminal for helping to negotiate his next brawl.

Even more disturbing, Eddie Hearn has insisted he “does not know of the allegations” against Daniel Kinahan. Legendary boxing promoter Bob Arum, who has worked with Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, effusively praised Kinahan’s morals and abilities. A damning statement. The highest level of Irish Courts have documented Kinahan’s role in a crime empire. These two major boxing figures are either obtuse, or  are choosing to ignore Kinahan’s transgressions. In the face of massive paydays for their clients, the latter is probably more realistic.

Does crime really pay?

Incredulously, Daniel Kinahan has essentially beaten the State. He has become one of the most powerful Irish criminals in history, all while avoiding any convictions along the way. At the same time, the mobster has succeeded in hiding all of his assets abroad. Following his father to Spain, and now to Dubai, Daniel remains out of reach of Irish authorities.

His move overseas, as well as the vastness of his criminal enterprise has led to Daniel having very little direct involvement in the drug trade. Kinahan has effectively outsourced the risk of his illegal endeavors.  Thus, he now stands to make drastic gains from his considerable sway in the boxing world. More importantly, Kinahan will have a direct hand in bringing major network boxing to the Middle East. The deal between KHK and MTK  Global is said to involve the promise of negotiating broadcast deals with the likes of ESPN and Sky Sports.

A massive international criminal has infiltrated the highest level of the sport of boxing. And there’s very little any authority can do to stop it. As long as Daniel Kinahan operates solely in the Middle East, and continues to hide and downplay his ties to the family business, he is essentially operating a legitimate business. He could make hundreds of millions, and this time, it’s all legit.

Fury’s comments have stirred outrage and media backlash all over the world. Following the cries for justice, many corporations have disassociated from Daniel Kinahan. According to multiple reports, KHK Sports announced it has “discontinued engagements” with Kinahan. Sky Sports have also distanced themselves from the gangster, saying they are “deeply concerned by the reports”. Alas, the authorities may be powerless to stop Kinahan. Fortunately, the power of the 24 hour news cycle remains undefeated.


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