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MTK Global CEO Vaughan steps down to be replaced by company president Yalen

Sandra Vaughan, who purchased the company in 2017, has stepped away during what she described as ‘transitional phase in the business’.

BOXING MANAGEMENT COMPANY MTK Global has confirmed that Sandra Vaughan has left her position as CEO and will be replaced by its president, Bob Yalen.

The switch comes in what Vaughan described as a “transitional phase” for the Dubai-based business, just a day after it was announced that MTK’s previous headquarters, MTK Marbella (formerly MGM) — the boxing gym co-founded by Daniel Kinahan and former middleweight contender Matthew Macklin in 2012 which spawned the management company — has closed down.

Kinahan has no criminal convictions but was two years ago named in the Irish High Court as the controller of a billion-euro criminal gang involved in drugs trafficking and firearms offences on an international scale. Macklin, now a boxing pundit with Sky Sports, has no involvement in crime.

Scottish businesswoman Vaughan purchased MTK Global from co-founder Macklin in 2017 and subsequently attempted to publicly disassociate the company from media coverage of Kinahan, culminating in a ‘boycott’ of all Republic of Ireland-based media between February 2018 and January 2019.

Yalen, an American with an extensive background in both the boxing and TV industries, was appointed MTK Global president in October 2018.

“I feel both humbled and incredibly motivated by this opportunity,” he said of his new position in a statement released on Monday night. “It has been an honour to be a part of the growth of MTK since 2018 and I now look forward to driving the business to even greater heights as CEO. Sandra Vaughan has done a phenomenal job over the past three years and I now intend to build on her successes.”

Outgoing CEO Vaughan added: “It is a pleasure to welcome Bob into his new position.

We are going through a transitional phase in the business and I feel fortunate to have someone of Bob’s experience and expertise to assume the CEO role and allow me to focus my energies in other areas. I wish him all the best in this new chapter for MTK.

Despite insisting that there remains no formal relationship between MTK and Kinahan, both Vaughan and Yalen have been outspoken in their respective endorsements of the Dubliner.

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Last month, Vaughan claimed in an interview with the MTK-sponsored YouTube channel IFL TV that Ireland should be proud of Kinahan, who since ending his official association with MTK in 2017 has become one of the most influential deal-makers and de-facto managers in boxing.

Vaughan confirmed in the same May interview that Kinahan regularly recommends that fighters sign managerial contracts with MTK, and that he independently advises several of those on MTK’s books.

She clarified in a written follow-up statement: “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.”

She reiterated, however, that: “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.”

Six days later, on 21 May, MTK confirmed a partnership with the KHK Sports, a Bahraini Royal Family-backed sports company for whom Kinahan had recently been appointed as a ‘special advisor’. However, on 16 June, following widespread backlash against his involvement in negotiations for a Tyson Fury v Anthony Joshua World heavyweight title clash, KHK announced it had parted company with Kinahan, citing its “integrity” and “principles”.

Last week, Fury’s US-based promoter, Bob Arum, said that negotiations for the megafight will no longer go through Kinahan, who has been instrumental to the MTK-managed heavyweight’s ring comeback and career rebuild. WBC world champion Fury, whose gratuitous ‘shout-outs’ for Kinahan earlier this month were admonished in the Dáil and led to worldwide media scrutiny, went on to endorse ‘DAN FOR PM’ on his Instagram story mere hours after Arum stressed Kinahan would no longer represent him on the negotiating table.

On Sunday, now-MTK CEO Yalen told The Athletic that Kinahan is “going to be taking time away from the sport to focus on other interests”, and that “hopefully this will put a stop to the negative press from Ireland that’s based entirely on hearsay.” He went on to claim that “the only basis” for allegations against Kinahan “is the hearsay testimony of biased parties.”

“He wants to do what’s right for the sport,” Yalen continued. “He loves the fighters. But MTK will continue to secure the best, most lucrative deal for its fighters and ensure the biggest fights in the sports are made.”

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