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Kinahan's attempt to take centre stage goes wrong with Fury-Joshua announcement

With his ongoing PR campaign, Daniel Kinahan has managed to attract more of exactly the type of attention he was hoping to avoid.

Tyson Fury thanked Daniel Kinahan three times in less than a minute during a video clip following news that he had 'agreed terms' to face Anthony Joshua in 2021.
Tyson Fury thanked Daniel Kinahan three times in less than a minute during a video clip following news that he had 'agreed terms' to face Anthony Joshua in 2021.
Image: Peter Byrne

IT SPEAKS VOLUMES that it was the biggest newsline to emerge from the Dáil on a day in which the leader of the Green Party literally said the ‘N’-word out loud.

Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, and Daniel Kinahan: two British heavyweight kingpins and the Dubai-based Irishman, labelled by many in boxing as a ‘genius’, who helped to bring them together. The one issue being: Kinahan, despite having no criminal convictions, has been named in the High Court as the controller of an international drug gang which is worth a billion euro, spans three continents and has been linked to countless deaths across the world.

And so his assumption of the role of boxing power broker and special adviser to Fury among others was among the topics addressed by the leader of this country in parliament on Thursday, a day after Fury publicly credited Kinahan for getting the first stage of negotiations for a fight versus Joshua over the line.

“Our country has had to intervene here through the Department of Foreign Affairs with the UAE in relation to this individual,” Labour leader Alan Kelly told the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in reference to Kinahan.

We owe it to the victims of such a cartel. Our country needs to do this and needs to do it today. We also need to communicate very strongly with certain sports broadcasters and certain sports companies and other companies involved in this.

“I have to say I was rather taken aback to see Tyson Fury and his video the other day and just dropping in that name that you mentioned,” Varadkar said in response.

“As if this was not somebody who has quite a chequered history in this state and elsewhere. And while I can’t comment on any particular garda operation, I can certainly assure you that there has been contact between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the authorities in the United Arab Emirates about that matter.”

A day later, when the issue was broached again, Varadkar added: “I think it’s not a decision for me but I think it would be entirely appropriate for sports organisations and media organisations to have nothing to do with this. Maybe they don’t know the facts or they don’t know the truth but they need to know them. And I wouldn’t like to see them giving it any attention at all given the circumstances.”

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson, Jim O’Callaghan, had implored Fury, Joshua, the fight’s promoters and relevant stakeholders to “inform themselves about the Kinahan criminal organisation”, adding that “they cannot just hide from those facts because there is a great deal of money to be made”.

And that’s where the well-intentioned O’Callaghan was wrong: oh, they can, Jim. And they will.

Almost nobody has ever been held accountable for anything in boxing, ever, because nobody has ever been in charge. Professional boxing is an enterprise run by amoral men in suits. It has ever been thus and, unless the four (four!) recognised sanctioning bodies — all of which exist to make money for even more men in suits — ever merge to become an actual governing body, it will ever be thus.

Three of the sport’s leading promoters have hitched their wagons to Kinahan. They won’t lose a wink of sleep over it, either. That’s the game they’re in, they’ll say, and they’ll be right.

Hall of Famer Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank and Tyson Fury’s promoter in the States, is in his platinum years and long ago reached the ‘I-don’t-give-a-fiddler’s-you-know-what’ stage of his career. He has been taking interviews from the Irish media and openly indicating that he doesn’t actually really care about the Kinahan organised crime group.

Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter in the UK, has gratuitously mentioned working with Kinahan in several interviews over the past couple of years. The other day, he claimed to the Irish Sun that he “didn’t know of the allegations” against the Dubliner, this two years after doing an interview in which he was asked about the same allegations by the same publication.

Eddie Hearn is a degree further removed from Kinahan than Arum and Warren: he has never directly alluded to Kinahan in interviews, which made it all the funnier when his archnemesis, Warren, said in a Fury-Joshua-related statement on Wednesday: “We can confirm negotiations have taken place between Eddie Hearn and Tyson Fury’s adviser Daniel Kinahan”, going on to explain that he and Arum had taken a step back from negotiations due to “the existing relationship between Eddie and Daniel”. Hearn’s company, Matchroom, have since told the Independent in the UK that “we have been instructed by them (Warren and Arum) and Tyson Fury to negotiate this fight directly with Fury’s adviser Daniel Kinahan.”

It was the first time Matchroom had acknowledged being in direct contact with Kinahan; Hearn typically references only talks with MTK Global, but they are of course two cheeks of the same arse — an arse which now has a seat at boxing’s big-boy table.

kin-3-310x415 Daniel Kinahan.

Rarely has Kinahan’s ascent in boxing been better explained than it was by former world champion and Sky Sports pundit Johnny Nelson, who inadvertently shed light on how the Dubliner has come to prominence in an interview with IFL TV on Thursday.

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“My first dealings with Daniel Kinahan…” Nelson began. “My old flatmate, my best mate, Herol Graham, had hit hard times. Hard times. And Daniel reached out from nowhere. Herol was going to lose his house, he had medical bills to pay for his wife [who] is unfortunately passed away now. And out of the blue, he (Kinahan) popped up. Herol couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it.”

Nelson added of Kinahan moments later: “You see him involved with Frank Warren, Eddie Hearn, Bob Arum. So, all of the top promoters who all have different networks — he’s managed to get these lot to work together. I don’t know what he’s doing — I don’t know how he’s talking these boys into it. And they all seem happy to be doing it too!”

And that’s it in a nutshell.

What leaves boxing wide open to figures such as Kinahan is that it is only truly governed by money. Daniel Kinahan has a lot of money. That’s how he makes friends, and that’s why he is now one of the most relevant names in the sport.

But amid the madness of the last few days, Kinahan must surely have wondered whether or not he has overplayed his hand with the rap song, the documentary; the conveyor belt of flat-earthers fighting his corner and singing his praises online; and the crowning moment, the bombastic Fury-Joshua announcement which saw the unbeaten Mancunian giant bounce Kinahan’s name off the walls of millions of living rooms around the world.

On Wednesday, the BBC shared the video clip of Fury ‘confirming’ the fight in which he thanks Kinahan three times in less than a minute. Curiously, they cut the start of the clip during which Fury alludes to Kinahan directly by full name, leaving in two more vague references to a contextless ‘Dan’.

BT Sport shared the same clip but left in Fury’s full-name reference to Kinahan. In repackaging the announcement, the Daily Telegraph described Kinahan as a “sometimes controversial” Dublin businessman.

Gary Lineker, who works for both the BBC and BT Sport, was among the first prominent media personalities in the UK to raise an eyebrow. On Wednesday, the former England striker initially shared Fury’s announcement video and commented on his own excitement, but he became inundated with tweets from Irish people and later deleted his tweet after ‘doing some reading’ into Fury’s adviser.

But by Friday, far more heads in the UK had been turned: the BBC’s website ran an informative written piece about the ongoing Kinahan-Hutch gangland feud; BT Sport released a statement distancing themselves from Kinahan and, intriguingly, MTK Global; and the British print and online press was awash with the types of stories about the Kinahan crime group that have been making headlines in Ireland for several years.

Image from iOS (5) Kinahan was the top trend on Twitter in Ireland on Thursday.

The turning point was, of course, the fact that ‘Irish prime minister’ Leo Varadkar addressed the issue of Kinahan’s role in boxing in the Dáil when prompted to do so by Alan Kelly. The uptake in interest in the story among leading British political correspondents eventually trickled down to their sports equivalents, who by Friday were starting to ask their own questions to nobody in particular on Twitter. That usually leads to stories.

Several Irish crime journalists offered on the same social media platform to consult with any British counterparts who wished to pursue the story. By all accounts, they were taken up on those offers.

And so it would appear that instead of establishing himself as boxing power broker as has been the intention of his ongoing PR campaign, Kinahan has instead managed only to attract more of exactly the type of attention he was hoping to avoid. That takes a certain type of genius.

Whether or not the story will truly catch on across the Atlantic remains to be seen but it was interesting to note that on Thursday that ESPN, which has a broadcast deal with Bob Arum’s Top Rank (and, by association, Fury and MTK Global), ran an Associated Press story about the matter on its website.

Kinahan may look at his newfound coverage in the UK and attempt to retreat to the shadows as he did in 2017 when he cut ties — on paper, at least — with MTK. Either that, or he’ll continue to fly towards the sun as his ascent within boxing, and this maddest of stories, continues.

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