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Editor's letter

The elephant’s out the room – Kinahan and boxing

Daniel Kinahan
After gaining support from the WBC, Daniel Kinahan’s influence continues to grow, writes Matt Christie

WHEN I first wrote about Daniel Kinahan the article was entitled Elephant In The Room. Two years on, he remains a ginormous presence but the difference is that more and more key figures in boxing are talking about him. And it’s not just the fighters he represents who are complimenting him or certain members of the media servicing him. It’s those who govern the sport. Last week, Mauricio Sulaiman, the head of the World Boxing Council, publicly declared his support to Kinahan after a visit to Dubai where the Irishman resides.

Sulaiman wrote that Kinahan was “a character who has been crossed out and labelled as a person linked to criminal groups, thus creating prejudice against a large part of the world boxing community… I had a revealing talk with him, confirmed by the testimonies of many boxers, who expressed their admiration and gratitude for the unconditional support he has given them, which has allowed them to improve their lives in a special way.

“I am nobody to judge any person, and that has been the policy of our organisation, to combat all types of discrimination and abuse of power, before any person and group. That is why Daniel will have our full support in his quest to bring benefits to boxing.”

It was this week reported that 53 people connected to the same cartel that Kinahan is alleged to run have been jailed. But Kinahan himself has not been convicted of a single crime.

We’re told he doesn’t own Probellum and he no longer has stakes in MTK Global. We’re also told that Probellum and MTK are two separate companies with no link to each other. Therefore, those who work for Probellum and MTK, some of whom are influential figures within the boxing media, do not have any kind of agenda when they give Kinahan a platform to tell everyone what an upstanding man he really is.

But if they did have an agenda and Kinahan did control MTK and Probellum – again, to be clear, we’re told he doesn’t – then at least they could say they are only doing a job they are employed to do. Without an agenda, though, their actions are significantly harder to justify. What is Sulaiman’s excuse? The organisation prides itself on being the leading sanctioning body in the sport. Sulaiman, from my personal experience, is a kind person who is striving to make boxing a better and safer sport. So it’s puzzling that he would choose to spend his time writing about what a terrific chap Daniel Kinahan is. Even if Kinahan is misunderstood and only wishing to do right by boxing, surely Sulaiman has far more pressing matters to attend to than being chief marketeer for someone who is only a boxing advisor.

Sulaiman isn’t the only one being hopelessly seduced. On March 20, Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti – the Provincial Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs for the Government of Punjab, Pakistan – posted four photographs on Twitter. He was posing with Kinahan and Sandra Vaughan, the former CEO of MTK Global. Vaughan stepped down from her role with MTK in 2020 allowing Bob Yalen, a former ratings chairman of the WBC, to fill the void. The accompanying tweet read: “Met Probellum on aligning vision on boxing for Punjab and how to make this sport bigger for our youth. Looking forward to hosting Daniel in Lahore to discuss Pakistan’s first international fight with foreign world class boxers… Will share more info in the upcoming weeks.”

One more time: We’re told that Probellum is not owned by Daniel Kinahan.

What isn’t up for debate is how many boxers not only work with Kinahan but genuinely admire him. On practically every fight card up and down the country and in several key territories all over the planet, there are several boxers who can be linked to Kinahan or openly employ him. And, for the sake of balance, if it wasn’t for the frequently published reports on members of the Kinahan Cartel being convicted of gruesome crimes, it would indeed be easy to compliment the work of Daniel Kinahan.

Boxers rarely get out with much more than a bit of chump change and an eternal headache. It’s what he clearly does for those fighters that makes it very difficult for Boxing News to address; he’s doing more for the boxers he represents than anyone else in the sport. Therefore, boxers we admire and champion have the same feelings for an advisor who, the British Boxing Board of Control told us last year, would have an application rejected should he try to get a manager’s licence. The truth remains, however, that Kinahan is one of the business’ most influential figures. He doesn’t need a licence for that.

Some journalists, with no ties to boxing, are getting increasingly frustrated that the sport continues to welcome Kinahan. The response to that criticism is simple: If law enforcement agencies can’t stop Kinahan, what is boxing expected to do? Lock its doors? The doors have been wide open for too long. More to the point, with the absence of a universal controlling body, nobody even has a key.

Regardless, it’s high time those within the sport realised that Kinahan’s presence remains a woeful look for boxing in 2022. Though he is happy to discuss the good he does and hopes to do in the future, it remains unexplained why, if he is such a positive influence, he doesn’t take steps to truly verify his presence. And if he can’t verify it, why are people like Mauricio Sulaiman taking it upon themselves to try and do it for him? It’s concerning.

Too often boxing folk sit inside the boxing bubble with an assumption the rest of the world can’t see in. The powers that be essentially do what they like in a lawless land. Then there’s moans and groans when boxing is ignored. Grumbles as boxing faces expulsion from the Olympic programme. When big fights struggle for coverage outside of the bubble and when the efforts of the fighters don’t get the widespread credit they deserve.

It won’t be long before the outside world pays us more than a passing glance, however. And when that time comes, the true implications of the company many choose to keep will become abundantly clear.

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