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BBC journalist warned of threat to life after covering Daniel Kinahan’s connection to boxing

BBC’s Panarama series recently covered links between boxing and the Kinahan Organized Crime Group.

General view of the Broadcasting House, BBC headquarters in... Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Last week the BBC aired an expose on connections between the Kinahan Organized Crime Group (Ireland’s largest trafficker of narcotics) and professional boxing. The program, titled ‘Boxing and the Mob’, aired as part of the BBC’s flagship documentary series Panarama.

Since the airing of the documentary, one of that project’s producers and on-air presenters has been informed of a threat against his life (per Independent.ie). The threat was discovered by Northern Ireland’s police services, who contacted the journalist and moved him and his family to a secure location.

In response to this the BBC’s head of current affairs Jo Carr stated: “The BBC places the utmost priority on the safety of our teams, whose journalism plays a vital role in a free society. It is despicable and intolerable if thugs think they can muzzle a free press through intimidation.”

Boxing and the Mob detailed the rise of MTK Global, which was once known as MGM. That company was founded by Daniel Kinahan, a man who Irish press, courts and politicians call the leader of the KOCG (aka the Kinahan Cartel).

The Kinahan Cartel has been involved in a bloody gang war with the Hutch Gang since 2015, when Kinahan members executed Gary Hutch, nephew of alleged Hutch Gang patriarch Gerry Hutch.

That feud has lead to gangland killings of at least 18 people. One of the most brazen attacks during this feud was the 2016 Regency Hotel shooting, which targeted an MTK boxing weigh-in. That shooting resulted in the death of David Byrne, an alleged top Kinahan lieutenant. However, it is believed Daniel Kinahan was the intended target of the attack. Kinahan relocated to the Dubai soon after this incident.

After the Regency Hotel shooting MTK, which is now one of the most powerful entities in world boxing, has continuously stressed that Kinahan is no longer involved with the company. These claims were most noticeably contradicted in 2020 when MTK client Tyson Fury publicly thanked Kinahan for negotiating his two-fight deal with Anthony Joshua.

Fury’s public shout-out of Kinahan lead to an immediate backlash from Irish authorities. Then Head-of-State Leo Varadkar pressured broadcasters to boycott Fury vs. Joshua and revealed that his government had contacted their counterparts in the Untied Arab Emirates to discuss Kinahan.

Since then it was announced that Fury would no longer work with Kinahan and that, according to MTK, Kinahan was stepping back from the sport of boxing.

Panarama interviewed a number of boxing insiders who claimed that Kinahan has been working hand-in-hand with MTK since the company’s inception. Those figures, including former world-champion and boxing manager Barry McGuigan, shared their outrage over Kinahan’s suspected activities and alleged that he has created a climate of fear around dealing with MTK and a roster that includes Fury, Carl Frampton, Michael Conlan, Billy Joe Saunders and Darren Till.

The documentary also revealed that the United State’s Drug Enforcement Agency was conducting an investigation into the KOCG.

Daniel Kinahan’s lawyers responded to the claims made by the BBC with the following statement: “[Kinahan] is proud of his record in boxing to date. He has operated on the basis of honesty and with a commitment to putting fighters’ needs first. Mr Kinahan is a successful and independent advisor in the boxing industry in his own right. It is a matter of public record that he has exited the business of MTK.”