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Report: ESPN drops MTK show after US sanctions Daniel Kinahan for suspected ties to organized crime

MTK continues to claim it has cut ties with suspected mob boss Daniel Kinahan.

Jordan Reynolds - Portrait Session Photo by James Chance/Getty Images

This week the US government named Daniel Kinahan as a key figure in what is known as the Kinahan Organized Crime Group, an Irish based narcotic smuggling network that is believed to be worth upwards of a billion dollars. The US government also sanctioned Kinahan, forbidding any US citizens or companies from doing business with him. The US’s Drug Enforcement Agency also placed a $5 million reward for any information that leads to Kinahan’s arrest and/or conviction or a disruption of the KOCG’s activities.

Kinahan is the co-founder of Macklin’s Gym Marbella, a company that later renamed itself MTK Global. MTK is one of the most powerful boxing promoters and management firms in the sport. It represents Tyson Fury, Billy Joe Saunders, Carl Frampton, Lee McGregor and dozens of other pro boxers. MTK’s MMA roster includes top UFC talents Darren Till, Aleksandar Rakic and Taila Santos.

MTK released a statement today regarding the sanctions against Kinahan. In that statement MTK continued to claim that Kinahan was not involved with their company. Their full statement reads:

MTK Global will comply fully with the sanctions made by the US government against Daniel Kinahan.

MTK parted ways with Mr Kinahan in February 2017. He has had no interest in the business since then, and will have no future involvement with us.

MTK operates ethically, transparently and lawfully. We will cooperate fully with all authorities and assist with any ongoing investigations.

“MTK Global will take every measure to ensure the company, and those who deal with it are fully compliant with the US sanctions announced this week and take this matter extremely seriously,” added Bob Yalen, CEO of MTK Global.

MTK began distancing themselves from Kinahan after the Regency Hotel Shooting in 2016. That shooting targeted an MTK weigh-in show and resulted in the death of David Byrne, an alleged top lieutenant in the KOCG.

Authorities believe that Kinahan was the target of that shooting and that the attack was carried out by the Hutch Gang as retribution for a number of gangland slayings in Ireland and Spain.

Despite MTK’s repeated statements that Kinahan was no longer part of the company, many of MTK’s top talents have divulged, on multiple occasions, that Kinahan remains as one of their key advisors.

In 2020 Fury publicly thanked Kinahan for negotiating his deals to fight Anthony Joshua. Fury and the UFC’s Till have also been pictured with Kinahan on multiple occasions in the past two years.

According to Lance Pugmire MTK’s claims about their association, or lack thereof, with Kinahan may not be enough to calm the nerves of their top broadcast partner. He reports that ESPN+ has dropped plans to stream an MTK event from the UK this Friday.

MTK was not included among the list of companies that the US has sanctioned alongside Kinahan. Ducashew Consultancy was one of the companies that was sanctioned. And, according to internet sleuths, Ducashew has some striking similarities to MTK.

MTK and Ducashew’s Dubai offices are located in adjacent suites in the Jumeirah Bay Tower, according to data provided by DMCC Authority.

According to Twitter user countermole, an infamous image of Till posing with Kinahan (and MTK’s special advisor for Bahrain Al Araydeh) was taken at Ducashew’s offices.

In 2020 MTK, per entries made on the UAE’s Ministry of Ecomony’s online registrar, reportedly named Khalid Abdulrahman Mohammad Aljassmi as the responsible director for MTK. DMCC Authority records list Aljassmi is the license manager for Ducashew.

In addition to ESPN, MTK’s most high profile business relationships include Top Rank, the UFC and apparel brand Everlast. It’s not known at this time whether these US-based companies will also forgo working with MTK over fears of breaking federal laws.

Bloody Elbow has reached out to the UFC for comment regarding their stance on dealing with MTK. At this time of writing no response has been received.