The World Boxing Council is doing damage control after President Mauricio Sulaimán was pictured posing with Daniel Kinahan in March. The picture, which also includes controversial promoter Ahmet Öner, was reportedly taking in Dubai after a boxing show.
Kinahan was recently sanctioned by the US government for his suspected role in leading the Kinahan Organized Crime Group. The KOCG is accused of trafficking cocaine into Ireland and operating in the UK, mainland Europe and Oceania. The KOCG is also believed to be responsible for a slew of killings across Ireland and Spain as part of the ongoing Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud.
Kinahan is a founder of Macklin’s Gym Marbella, a company that would swell to become MTK Global. MTK, which announced it would cease operations last week, managed Tyson Fury, Billy Joe Saunders, Carl Frampton and other top boxers. It also held deals with ESPN+, Top Rank and Everlast. It’s MMA division managed UFC stars Darren Till and Aleksandar Rakic.
MTK had long maintained that Kinahan stopped working with the company in 2017, shortly after Kinahan escaped an assassination attempt at an MTK weigh-in show and fled to Dubai. MTK’s claims of separation from Kinahan were harmed by Fury and other top talents continuing to cite Kinahan as a trusted advisor.
Sulaimán is claiming ignorance when it comes to Kinahan and his background. He released a statement on WBC’s site, which reads:
Whilst visiting Dubai recently I was introduced to Daniel Kinahan, who has since been placed on a sanctions list by the US Treasury Department, concerning alleged links to drug crimes.
This has generated speculation and attacks on myself and the WBC. I therefore feel it necessary to make it clear that at no time have we had any relationship with Daniel Kinahan.
The World Boxing Council deals solely and exclusively with boxing promoters and only they maintain commercial relations in the certification of fights for our titles.
The WBC has had for many years a large number of social responsibility campaigns focused on the prevention and awareness of the dangers of drug use. We have a wonderful program of talks given by a former DEA agent, Rocky Heron, who reaches thousands of people with his presentations. We have rescued many boxers and members of the boxing community around the world from the demons of addiction and we openly and constantly support rehabilitation clinics such as those of Julio Cesar Chavez and Aaron Silva, among others.
I made an innocent mistake, due to absolute ignorance of the situation. In this way, I confirm that the World Boxing Council and all its members absolutely reject any action that is detrimental to human beings and we will continue, as always, in total compliance with the laws of all countries in the world.
Sulaimán also discussed Kinahan during an appearance on UAE sports channel SNTV (per Sunday World).
“There’s nothing to hide. Neither the WBC nor myself nor any member of the WBC has had or has any dealings with Daniel Kinahan,” he said.
“I’m president of a world organisation. I meet hundreds of people every time I travel and I’m always open to talk about boxing and anyone who supports or wants to support boxing will have the WBC ears of support.
“So, if you want to call it naïve or a mistake that I made, that could be it but I have absolutely nothing to hide, nothing to regret, and absolutely no worries.
“I have not seen any wrongdoing. I’ve never seen a fight fixed. Unless we get more information or there’s things that are discovered, it has nothing to do with boxing. Zero. Absolutely nothing to do with boxing.”
Sulaimán also claimed that the sanctions against Kinahan, which have led to MTK folding, are “not a major situation” for world boxing.
“I can certainly see that it has a great impact in Ireland and UK geographically and because of the news... but there’s much more to any sport than just one person.”