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Irish boxing icon Barry McGuigan warns about Daniel Kinahan’s ‘grip’ over boxing

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Bary McGuigan said Daniel Kinahan and MTK have ‘tarnished’ the sport of boxing.

Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor Press Conference Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Irish boxing icon turned promoter Barry McGuigan is speaking out after the settlement of a legal case between himself and his former client, world champion Northern Irish boxer Carl Frampton.

Frampton sued McGuigan and Cyclone Promotions in 2017 for £6m. He claimed McGuigan, and McGuigan’s family members, hid millions of pounds of his earnings. McGuigan counter-sued Frampton, claiming Frampton breached his contract when he left Cyclone Promotions to join MTK global.

The case was abruptly settled last week. Details regarding the case’s settlement are not known publicly. However, the case seemed to end after news emerged that McGuigan had produced thousands of previously undisclosed emails.

According to the Belfast Telegraph McGuigan has now gone on record to talk about the case and MTK Global, a company that was founded by Daniel Kinahan—a man courts, media and politicians in Ireland accuse of operating an international drug and weapons smuggling cartel.

“Boxing is in the worse state I can ever remember it,” said McGuigan in an exclusive interview with The Sun. “The effect of Kinahan has been to diminish and tarnish the sport.

“I don’t think boxing is going to regain its standing until Daniel Kinahan is no longer part of it — he is a black mark on the sport. The grip that Kinahan has on the sport is really very worrying. Everyone in Ireland, north and south, knows about him. The sport is in a perilous place.”

MTK Global started out as MGM (Macklin’s Gym Marbella), a boxing gym in southern Spain set up by Kinahan and former boxer Matthew Macklin in 2012. That area of Spain was once rumoured to be the power-base of the so-called Kinahan Cartel.

In 2015 Irish media began reporting on a gang war that had erupted between alleged members of the Kinahan organization and the Hutch Gang. The feud began when Gary Hutch, a former Kinahan associate and nephew of alleged Hutch Gang leader Gerry Hutch, was executed in Spain by other Kinahan Cartel members.

Since then there have been at least 18 murders in Ireland and Spain tied to the feud.

In 2016 suspected Hutch Gang gunmen attacked a boxing weigh-in at Dublin’s Regency Hotel. During that shooting David Byrne, a reported top Kinahan lieutenant was killed. Media reports stated that the target of this attack was Daniel Kinahan. Since then Kinahan is thought to of relocated to Dubai.

After the Regency Hotel shooting MGM changed it’s name to Mack the Knife (MTK) Global and claimed that Kinahan was no longer affiliated with the company (despite evidence to the contrary). As MTK the company grew in stature, inking partnerships with Top Rank and ESPN and signing world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and top UFC welterweight Darren Till.

In his recent interview McGuigan claimed that, despite what MTK claims, Kinahan has remained heavily involved with the company.

During his court case with Frampton, McGuigan’s side argued that MTK was a “front” for the Kinahan criminal organization. Frampton denied having any knowledge regarding these allegations.

This year Kinahan stepped into the boxing limelight when Tyson Fury announced that Kinahan was instrumental in setting up his two-fight deal with Anthony Joshua. In response to this Ireland’s then head-of-state, Leo Varadkar, urged broadcasters to boycott the fights. Varadkar also said that his government would be sharing information about Kinahan with their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates.

After this Kinahan was removed from his role as special advisor with Bahrain-based KHK Sports (which previously announced a partnership with MTK). Fury, and his promoter Bob Arum, also announced they would no longer work with Kinahan. In June MTK’s new CEO Bob Yalen announced that Kinahan was stepping away from boxing altogether.