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New MTK CEO says Daniel Kinahan is stepping away from boxing

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Daniel Kinahan is the alleged boss of Ireland’s largest criminal organization.

MTK Fight Night in Belfast Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Daniel Kinahan, who has been named by Irish courts, politicians, and media outlets, as the acting boss of the Kinahan Criminal Organization (a $1 billion narcotics and weapon trafficking outfit) is reportedly stepping away from the sport of boxing.

Prior to this announcement Kinahan, and some of boxing’s elites, seemed intent on transforming his image from reported mobster to one of the sport’s top power brokers.

The news of Kinahan’s withdrawal from boxing came from new MTK Global CEO Bob Yalen who spoke to The Athletic. Yalen told that outlet that Kinahan was doing, “what’s right for the sport” in order to avoid negative headlines.

Negative headlines had been plentiful in recent weeks. Many of them were in response to heavyweight champion Tyson Fury’s revelation that Kinahan was instrumental in setting up a two-fight deal for him to face Anthony Joshua in 2021.

In a video announcement Fury thanked Kinahan for getting the deal “over the line”. In response to this Leo Varadkar, who was Ireland’s Taoiseach at the time, said his government was outraged by Kinahan’s involvement in what would be the biggest boxing match in British history.

Varadkar stated that he would like to see broadcasters boycott the fight. He also said that his government had contacted their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates to discuss Kinahan.

Kinahan has been living in Dubai ever since the Regency Hotel Shooting in 2016, which was believed to be a failed assassination attempt against Kinahan allegedly perpetrated by the Hutch Gang. The Kinahan cartel and the Hutch Gang have been embroiled in a bloody gang war since the murder of Gary Hutch in Spain in 2015.

After Varadkar’s comments Fury, through his promoter Bob Arum, announced that he would no longer negotiate through Kinahan. Around this time Kinahan was also removed from his role as special advisor to KHK Sports, a sports and media company owned by Bahrain’s royal family.

Days before Varadkar spoke out about Kinahan, KHK sent out a press release praising Kinahan. That release included quotes from boxing luminaries such as Arum, Queensberry Promotions’ Frank Warren, Hall of Fame manager Shelly Finkel and former fighters Badou Jack and Roy Jones Jr. That release also quoted UFC welterweight Darren Till, who has previously commented on his longtime friendship with Kinahan.

Quickly after announcing Kinahan’s hiring, KHK announced a partnership with MTK Global. This was despite MTK spending years trying to distance themselves from Kinahan.

MTK was co-founded by Kinahan and former boxer Matthew Macklin. However, after the Regency Hotel shooting, which targeted an MTK boxing show weigh-in, MTK claimed that Kinahan was no longer involved with the company, despite evidence to the contrary.

MTK’s former CEO Sandra Vaughan was at the forefront of distancing the company from Kinahan. Last month she released a video statement in which she rebuked claims from Bob Arum that Kinahan played an integral part in forming a relationship between MTK and Top Rank (which lead to MTK getting a deal with ESPN+).

Tabloids in Ireland have claimed that Vaughan is the ex-partner of convicted drug dealer Kevin Kelly (a former Kinahan cartel member).

News of Vaughan leaving MTK was released on Wednesday, in a press release naming Yalen as her replacement. Yalen, a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, formerly produced boxing coverage for ABC Sports and NBC Sports. He was also Director of Programming & Acquisitions at ESPN.