Wednesday’s announcement that a deal has tentatively been agreed for two blockbuster boxing matches next year between the two men who hold all the marbles in boxing’s heavyweight division, Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, was greeted ravenously by a boxing public keen to see what will likely be among the biggest fights the sport has seen in a generation.
One alternative narrative, however, concerns the man thanked by Fury in an Instagram post as helping get the deal over the line: Daniel Kinahan.
While Kinahan (or Kinnerhan, as Fury erroneously referred to him as) has never been convicted of any crime, his reputation in Ireland is that of a man suspected of being a vengeful criminal who has been linked to a feud in which at least 18 people have been murdered, as part of his alleged status atop the international crime syndicate often referred to as the ‘Kinahan Cartel’.
“I’m just after getting off the phone with Daniel Kinahan. He’s just informed me that the biggest fight in British boxing history has just been agreed,” a shirtless Fury revealed on Instagram Wednesday.
“Big shout out to Dan. He got this done, literally over the line. Two fight deal. Tyson Fury versus Anthony Joshua next year. One problem I just got to smash Deontay Wilder’s face right in in next fight and then we’ll go into the Joshua fight next year.
“So there we are the Gypsy King versus AJ is on for next year. But there’s a hurdle in the road called The Bronze Bomber AKA the knockout king. But I will get on to him and knock him spark out and then we’ll go on for the big fight. So a big thank you to Dan for getting this deal over the line. All the best. God bless you all. See you soon.”
While the significance of this was largely missed by some in the UK media, numerous news desks in Ireland were apoplectic at the announcement. Despite robust laws against naming people suspected in crime, Kinahan has been openly named in the Irish High Court as being the alleged de-facto leader of the crime syndicate – a tag which appears to have stuck throughout the country.
Kinahan – who has fled Ireland and now resides in Dubai, where is believed to be under 24-hour security – has been accused of attempting to rebrand, or ‘sportswash’, his international image as being a high-stakes powerbroker in the boxing world. In his home country, though, a feud between two rival gangs which has seen at least 18 violent murders has led to Kinahan being a highly controversial figure.
The feud is a long one, but perhaps the most infamous incident to date is a shooting at the Dublin Regency Hotel in 2016 in which Kinahan is alleged to have been the primary target. However, he left the hotel shortly before a team of assassins arrived. An associate of Kinahan’s, David Byrne, was gunned down in the hotel lobby.
In 2018, Kinahan was claimed in a Spanish court to have ordered the murder of rival Gary Hutch in the Costa del Sol in 2015, allegedly after accepting a fee of €200,000 from Hutch’s family to spare his life. This is widely believed to have been the incident which prompted the Regency shooting.
Just last month, Kinahan was again referenced in Dublin’s Special Criminal Court as allegedly having ordered the murder of another rival, Patrick Hutch. The Kinahan Cartel was also referred to as a major international drug empire, rivaling the world’s largest crime groups.
Formerly involved with the MTK boxing stable, Kinahan left once the claims about his past threatened to overshadow his work there, but has since been hired as an ‘adviser’ by a Middle Eastern boxing enterprise and was recently name-checked by Top Rank’s Bob Arum as being a crucial cog in the international boxing arena.
Other fighters like Roy Jones Jr and Darren Till (who has an association with MTK) have also heaped praise on Kinahan recently, much like Fury did this week even if the gargantuan heavyweight didn’t seem to know how to spell Kinahan’s name.
All of this appears to point to a campaign to enhance Kinahan’s reputation. A recent professionally-produced documentary about the Regency shooting appeared on YouTube which painted Kinahan as being deeply concerned about the safety of those attending the weigh-in, before it was removed from the website for using copyrighted footage without permission.
Around the same time, a song was released to YouTube by an English rapper which contained effusive praise for Kinahan, as well as a series of allegations about the shooting which have been rubbished by Irish media. The song was shared less than 30 minutes after it was uploaded by Spencer Fearon, head of the MTK Global Foundation. Fury, the most famous fighter in the MTK stable, did the same.
The two-time heavyweight champion’s association with MTK has been a controversial one in Ireland. The boxer was forced to cancel two public appearances in the country recently after graffiti threatening a ‘repeat of the Regency’ was found in Dublin, supposedly referencing the boxing star’s visit and just this week, a gym in north Dublin which houses several Irish MTK boxers was fire-bombed. No one was injured.
Members of the Irish government have also commented, with An Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar referencing the matter in parliament on Thursday.
“While I can’t comment on any particular garda (police) 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,” Varadkar said of the announcement by Tyson Fury.
Another politician, Neale Richmond, called on Dubai authorities to hold Kinahan “to account for his real activities,” but the most condemning criticism came from Independent councillor Nial Ring.
“I have seen what a criminal gang named in open court as the Kinahan organization has done to the north inner city of Dublin – and what they have done should never be forgotten,“ Ring told The Sun.
“People in professional boxing should take a look at themselves and who they are dealing with. I would not only invite Fury and the people involved in this over to Dublin to see the devastation that has been caused here, I would also invite them to give some of their massive profits to give to anti-drug schemes around the world.”
As mentioned, Kinahan has no criminal convictions, and there is no suggestion that either Tyson Fury or MTK have any association with crime.