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boxing big time

Daniel Kinahan 'rebranding himself in the Middle East as a boxing promoter', Dáil hears

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there has been diplomatic contact between Ireland and the UAE on the issue.

LAST UPDATE | 11 Jun 2020

WHEN WORLD CHAMPION boxer Tyson Fury yesterday announced what would likely be the two biggest events in the sport next year, he mentioned Daniel Kinahan by name within the first three seconds.

The namecheck was the most obvious sign yet that that the Dublin man who was named in the High Court as the controller of an international drug gang had become a major player in the world of professional boxing. 

Dubai-based Kinahan will not be unfamiliar in Ireland but it is only in recent times that he has attempted to carve out an image as a boxing broker on a global scale. 

This has led to several Irish politicians raising concerns about his involvement in the sport and calls for an intervention by government. 

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that there has been diplomatic contact between Ireland and the UAE on the issue.  

“I have to say I was rather taken aback to see Tyson Fury and his video the other day and just dropping in that name that you mentioned,” Varadkar said in response to a question from Labour’s Alan Kelly.

As if this was not somebody who has quite a chequered history in this State and elsewhere. And while I can’t comment on any particular garda operation, I can certainly assure you that there has been contact between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the authorities in the United Arab Emirates about that matter.  

Despite Kinahan’s name being notorious in this country, his background has been absent in much of the UK coverage of his rise in the sport. 

The omission or downplaying of this fact was again notable as news of the planned fights between Fury and fellow British world champion Anthony Joshua was reported today. 

The fight itself dominated UK back pages and even made some front pages.

Here’s how they mentioned Kinahan and his involvement in the potential bouts:

The Telegraph

The Telegraph’s description of Kinahan has prompted particular raised eyebrows, with its story last night on the fights describing him as “a sometimes controversial figure during his time as a Dublin businessman”. 

A further story about by the same writer, which is specifically focused on the potential lucrative nature of the contest, does not mention Kinahan by name. 

The Times

The Times carried news of the fight as its main sports story but referenced Kinahan’s involvement in the opening sentence of the article, saying it is likely to cause controversy. 

The paper said that Fury “is facing fresh controversy for publicly thanking a man who has been accused of heading an international crime gang”. 

The paper says Kinahan has no criminal convictions but reports on what the Criminal Assets Bureau said about him in a submission to the High Court. 

Sky Sports

Perhaps the biggest media outlet when it comes to boxing in the UK is Sky Sports, which has broadcast each of Joshua’s world title winning fights.

The broadcaster carried the Fury-Joshua fight as its main story last night but it didn’t mention Kinahan’s involvement. 

On its website this morning Sky Sports namechecks a number of the promoters involved in the fight including Eddie Hearn, Frank Warren and Bob Arum but does not mention Kinahan. 

Irish reaction

The Irish reaction to the fight has been markedly different however among both sport and crime reporters. Many have been urging UK-based reporters not to ignore Kinahan’s involvement in the deal.  

The Irish Daily Star has today said that it would not be covering the Fury-Joshua fights at all and that they should be “treated with contempt”. 

A number of politicians have also urged the government to get involved. 

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond has said that Kinahan “cannot be allowed run for cover with the protection of the international boxing community”. 

“I have called on our Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to make a direct appeal to the authorities in Dubai to hold Kinahan to account for his real activities,” he said last night. 

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Labour’s Kelly said that Kinahan is “rebranding himself in the Middle East as a boxing promoter” and that the country must intervene. 

“We have to through the Department of Foreign Affairs intervene with the UAE in relation to this individual. We owe it to the victims of such a cartel. Our country needs to do this and needs to do it today. We also need to communicate very strongly with certain sports broadcasters and certain sports companies and other companies involved in this.

“This is an important juncture Taoiseach and I would ask you through the Department of Foreign Affairs through the Minister for Foreign Affairs to highlight how important this is for us because of the parasitical criminal activities of this individual and all associated with him.”

The Explainer / SoundCloud

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