The subject of Daniel Kinahan's role with boxing promoting powerhouse MTK has been thrust back into the spotlight this week with the CEO of Top Rank, Bob Arum, revealing that they have a working relationship.
Arum says that Kinahan helped to organise Michael Conlan's WBO title defence in Belfast last year, telling The Sun that the Dubliner had "blessed" the event.
The Top Rank chief added that he wasn't concerned by Kinahan's links to criminality:
“I’m not naive. I was a federal prosecutor myself. I’m saying I can disregard all of that stuff. It doesn’t affect me. It hasn’t affected me.
“When it does, I’ll have to deal with it. But right now, I have absolutely no involvement with the Irish authorities. Nobody has come to me, nobody has questioned me.
“So my philosophy is, ‘Stick to your business son’ — meaning me. Stick to your business and don’t be distracted by the background noises.”
He added: “Anything that went before — allegedly went before — that’s none of my business.”
Arum's comments prompted a statement from MTK Global CEO Sandra Vaughan, who sought to "clarify" their association with Kinahan, who had been a founder member of the company (then MGM) in 2013:
“Everyone knows, legally and legitimately, I purchased the business from Matthew Macklin in 2017. There are no ties to Daniel Kinahan, there was no contract or financial transaction, absolutely nothing.
“He hasn’t got anything to do with MTK Global. We manage fighters, that’s our role, a fighter has a team, not just a manager, a team. A trainer, a cutman, a nutritionist, an S&C coach, and 99% of the time they will have an advisor.
“That can be Daniel, that can be a family member, it could be a cousin or a father. There is always somebody around them that is giving them advice. We don’t employ any of these people, they have got no official connection to MTK Global.
“Daniel advises fighters, and they will be recommended to MTK Global if they’ve not got a manager, which I’m totally grateful for, as we’ve had some really good fighters come to MTK because of Daniel’s recommendation.
“Daniel’s not the only person that recommends fighters to us, there are other people too. Some of the high profile fighters that Daniel advises will probably go elsewhere because they don’t want to come to MTK Global, it’s just a recommendation."
Sunday World’s Investigation’s Editor, Nicola Tallant, joined Ger Gilroy on Friday's Off The Ball and she revealed that it was no surprise that MTK global had a retained a close relationship with Kinahan, who is believed to be involved in setting up a potential world heavyweight boxing title unification bout between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua:
"I could kind of see the drip feed coming over the past couple of months. Some boxers that would know Daniel Kinahan and who are signed to MTK, the promotion who Kinahan founded and then we were told stepped away from completely, they had started to sing him up and say he was great and he had posed for a photograph with (MMA fighter) Darren Till.
"That was the first up to date photograph we've seen of Kinahan since he moved to Dubai from Spain so there was something coming, you could see they were starting to push him forward a bit again and telling us all what a wonderful fella he was. Of course I was surprised when it was Bob Arum that revealed his involvement, he basically said he was the captain and their guy in the Middle East who was going to set up the biggest fight in boxing history. It's an extraordinary situation, there's no doubt about it.
"In 2010 there had been a huge multi agency assault on the Kinahan organisation in Spain by Spanish police, UK police, Irish police were involved and people were arrested in Belgium. We were told at the time that it was the end of the Kinahan organised crime group. Christy Kinahan and his sons Daniel and Christopher Junior were brought before the courts. The Spanish system has a peculiar way of operating, the courts investigate it and a case could go on for three or four years and they were eventually bailed and let out.
"I was working at The Sunday World at the time and we were getting a little bit of information that they were back in business in Spain and very much back in business so we went out to have a look and while there we discovered they were building a gym in an underground car park. Daniel Kinahan was the guy dealing with the builders and Matthew Macklin's name was above it. This thing opened, it was called MGM at the time, it was billed as a gym for boxers from all over the world. Celebrity boxers went out, all sorts of people went out to train for a couple of weeks. Kinahan slowly stepped forward into the limelight of it and they started organising white collar boxing events etc and the company grew and grew.
"In 2016 that company MGM came back to host the 'Clash of the Clans' which was to be their homecoming here in Ireland and it was during the weigh-in where that shooting happened which kicked off the Hutch/Kinahan feud. MGM then changed name after a challenge by MGM in Vegas and they became MTK. Around 2017 we were told that it had been sold and that Daniel Kinahan had moved away completely from it and that a businesswoman called Sandra Vaughan had bought it out from Kinahan and Macklin.
"She then did a video giving out about the Irish media because the Irish media wouldn't stop saying that Kinahan was still involved. She put that video saying he definitely wasn't involved and certainly had nothing to do with it, she was completely independent and running that business now. She actually issued a ban on Irish media for a year and wouldn't allow any of the boxers to speak to Irish media and said she wasn't going to sign up any more boxers in Ireland because the media here were just an irritant and they just kept bringing up the fact that Daniel Kinahan had been involved.
"Around the end of that year Kinahan moved out to Dubai, his gym had been raided and there was a number of court cases going on in Spain at the time, including the one into the murder of Gary Hutch. MTK also moved premises then as well, it shut up their headquarters at least in Spain, though the gym remains there, and they moved the financial side to Dubai where Vaughan is based. It had gone from strength to strength since, signing over 100 boxers, and she is at the forefront of it but constantly insisting that Daniel Kinahan has nothing to do with it.
"This situation this week is a little bit of an about turn and she's now saying that she speaks to Daniel and that he's a friend of hers of twenty years and he advises her in business and introduces MTK as a company to some big boxers, and she named Tyson Fury as one of those. She said Kinahan takes no financial benefit and there's no contract and that it's all just on a friendly basis. That's where we're at with MTK and Daniel."
Ger raised the potential for "sportswashing" if Kinahan was to position himself as a kingmaker in setting up a super-fight between Fury and Joshua in the Middle East and Tallant agreed it could be an attempt to use the sport to project a positive image:
"In the end of the day what is happening here other than money is speaking. Money can buy anything and I think what Sandra Vaughan is saying in her latest outburst about Kinahan and how wonderful he is, trying to remind us all here in Ireland that we should be proud of what he's done. 'Look at this working class boy has done' as if he's made it from nothing, as if he's made it to where he is to the lifestyle he enjoys in Dubai just by his hard graft. I don't think that's the case at all or that anyone would believe that but it shows a lack of association with reality that somebody could say something like that.
"I think America might sit up and take notice if they think there's an avalanche of US dollars heading into the gulf and that's what it's looking like for the PPV. Between the politics of Trump and oil and everything else, there is a possibility that Daniel Kinahan has stepped into territory where he hasn't really look underfoot at.
"As far as the investigation into the drug cartel is concerned, I know there's been a number of meetings between police forces in Europe and our own and with the DEA - who are the crowd who took down 'El Chapo' and many more before him. They go into South America, and into those Mexican cartels and they literally pluck 'The Don' out and they bring them before the courts in the States. When things become political, the DEA really move and there's lot left in this yet. I don't know what will happen in the the coming months, is the gulf only interesting now because of the COVID it's one of the few places where boxing fights can be put on.
"It appears that it's a sport that has become more and more engulfed in this criminality and maybe there's no way back for it now, I don't know. A lot of the amateur organisations here would feel strongly about not having people like that involved in the sport, it's a place where working places can find something and traditionally it's been a sport which has spoken to working class communities. It speaks a language to working class kids which other sports don't and it's sad to see the sport engulfed in organised crime.