Earlier this year boxing promoter Eddie Hearn succeeded in making a deal for his client Anthony Joshua to take on Tyson Fury in two fights in 2021. Those fights are expected to be the highest grossing and most watched fights in British boxing history.
Shortly after the fights became a official, controversy began swirling around the match-up. This is thanks to a man who sat on the Fury side of the negotiating table: Daniel Kinahan.
Kinahan, who is believed to be living in Dubai, has been named by Irish courts, media and politicians as the leader of an alleged criminal organization often referred to as the Kinahan Cartel.
The Kinahan Cartel is often described as the largest drug trafficking outfit in Ireland. It has been accused of controlling a narcotics smuggling network that spans Ireland, mainland Europe, South America, North Africa and Oceania.
This organization is reportedly also embroiled in a bloody gang war with an entity refereed to as the Hutch Gang. Since 2015, when Gary Hutch was murdered in southern Spain, a number of individuals with reported link to either the Kinahan or Hutch family have been killed in gun attacks, mostly in Ireland.
One of those gun attacks happened at Dublin’s Regency Hotel in 2016. There gunman stormed a boxing weigh-in show and murdered David Byrne, who was rumoured to be one of the top lieutenants in the Kinahan crime organization. Tabloids have reported that Daniel Kinahan was the target of that attack.
While this gang war has been erupting in Ireland, MTK Global—the boxing promotion Kinahan founded in Marbella with former pro Matthew Macklin—has risen to be one of the most powerful players in boxing and MMA. The company represents Tyson Fury and Darren Till among many other well known combat sports athletes. It was an MTK Global show (back when it was named MGM) that was attacked at the Regency Hotel.
After the hotel shooting MTK claimed that Kinahan was no longer involved with the company, despite evidence to the contrary.
MTK’s ability to distance itself from Kinahan was harmed in June when Fury announced his agreement to fight Joshua. During that announcement Fury thanked Kinahan for getting the deal made.
That public announcement lead to Ireland’s leader at the time Leo Varadkar calling for the fight to be boycotted. Varadkar’s government also announced that it would be contacting their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates to discuss Kinahan and the crimes he has been accused of.
Hearn recently spoke to RTE 2FM’s Game On program to discuss what it was like working with Kinahan on the Joshua vs. Fury fights.
“When we got asked, or when Tyson Fury said to us this is who you need to negotiate with, it wasn’t a surprise because he has been involved for a long period of time, like doing Tyson Fury’s deal with Frank Warren, ESPN and all sorts,” said Warren (via Sunday World).
Hearn didn’t express any personal distaste for working with Kinahan, insisting he will work with whomever is needed to get certain deals done. Hearn also said he didn’t feel any added pressure when dealing with Kinahan.
“I feel more the pressure of getting that over the line for my client Anthony Joshua who has a dream to be undisputed champion,” said Hearn, “I’m very blinkered to the fact that this is the biggest fight in boxing.”