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Boxing Needs To Come Clean And Do Better

Boxing has recovered from countless bumps and knocks over the years but a lingering one resurfaced this week. 

On Tuesday a number of people may have started to feel uneasy when news emerged that sanctions were being placed on Daniel Kinahan by the US government, a man described by the US Treasury as someone who runs the “day to day operations” of the Kinahan Organised Crime Group. 

Murder, drug trafficking, money laundering is just some of the crimes laid at the doorstep of an organisation placed in the same company as the Camorra in Italy, the yakuza in Japan and Los Zetas in Mexico.

Kinahan’s name has long been linked with the sport. Photographed with leading promoters and fighters, testimonials given by grown men who should frankly know better. Boxing can be an infuriating sport at times but the backing of such a man from prominent figures raised eyebrows that Dwayne Johnson would have been proud of.

Such support has been rescinded over the last few days since the US Government launched their Kinahan crackdown and rewards of $5 million dollars offered leading to the arrest of Daniel, his father Christy and his brother Christy Jr. 

The 44-year-old appears to be no longer seen as an ‘advisor’, ‘friend’ ‘nice guy’ or ‘legitimate businessman’. Those who portrayed him as such have now gone silent. 

Following Tuesday’s news boxing’s attempt to nurse this reopened wound has been to place an Elastoplast called ‘statement’ over it.

On Wednesday, Probellum, a promotional outfit who were launched less than a year ago and who have been linked with Kinahan by some said: ‘We can confirm that we will not have any business relationship or communication with him whatsoever.

MTK Global (formerly known as MGM which Kinahan co-founded) also issued a statement on Thursday saying they, ‘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.’

Bob Arum, Top Rank CEO and Founder, who once described Kinahan as ‘honourable’ now won’t have anything to do with him. ‘I was looking to sever ties anyway,’ he told the Daily Mail. 

Matchroom Sport Ltd Chairman Eddie Hearn, once photographed with a smile and Kinahan, was asked by Boxing Social’s Andi Purewal yesterday for his reaction to the news.

“I think there’s not much to say on it other than we’re a huge global business that follows global regulations and guidelines and sanctions put in place and we’ll continue to do so. We’ll take relevant advice, and I don’t think there’s too much to say. Of course, follow any guidelines and rules that are put in place.

Hearn was then prodded to see if he, like Arum, would now distance himself from working with Kinahan.

“Same as what I just said. Everything’s set out in black and white in terms of what’s allowed and what’s not allowed, and we’ll follow absolutely all guidelines put in place by whatever country, by whatever federal government, federation, whatever that may be.”

Frank Warren, Hearn’s UK rival, in 2020 said, ‘Any dealings I have had with Daniel are related to boxers who have appointed him as their advisor. He’s been honourable in all dealings and delivered on everything as agreed.’ No statement has come from Warren or Queensbury Promotions yet.

What I think everyone can agree on is that the last few days have been an embarrassment for boxing, a sport that has long been linked to criminal activity for decades. This is different. Boxing and gangsters are not a new relationship but in the social media age where fights can be agreed on Twitter the subject of Daniel Kinahan is now a 24/7 rolling wheel that is picking up any bit of dirt it can get. Photographs, article links, quotes, video clips can all be found just by typing the name Kinahan into Twitter’s search function.

Newspapers and news channels are carrying the story and U-turn quotes and statements are out there but unlike the past you don’t have to wait until tomorrow or next week for an update or opinion. 

The last 48 hours though were an ideal window for some parties to come out and admit their mistake for having any dealings with Kinahan. Don’t delete tweets or stay silent because by doing so that hole you created is expanding even without your shovel.

Dillian Whyte broke his silence this week but for a completely different matter. The heavyweight contender finally decided to participate in the promotion of his upcoming fight against WBC champion Tyson Fury. Their fight goes ahead on April 23 at Wembley Stadium in front of a 90,000 plus crowd. Yesterday the two men participated in a Top Rank media call as part of the build-up to the all-British world title fight. It’s standard practice and usually we are treated to mudslinging and/or cliched questions and answers but the elephant in the Zoom room wasn’t dealt with.

The Times’ Matt Lawton was on the call waiting to ask about Kinahan as were other heavyweight journalists. The questions that were taken on the YouTube live chat were from those who obviously knew better. Lawton described the press conference as ‘shameful’. 

Award-winning writer and author Donald McRae was also in attendance and in a piece for The Guardian wrote, ‘It was as this story had never happened. Instead, there was hot air and silence’.

So, not only has boxing struggled to deal with this week’s events it was also left with egg on its face yesterday.

But just like any circus the sport hits more towns and cities this weekend and then the following week all eyes will be on Wembley Stadium. Fury, Whyte, Warren, Arum, 94,000 all part of a cast in one of the biggest sporting events of the year which we will all watch. The prize is the World Boxing Council heavyweight title. Its president Mauricio Sulaiman last month wrote, ‘I also met Daniel Kinahan, who is advisor and manager of boxers. A man who has been labelled as a person linked to criminal groups.

‘I had a fascinating and insightful talk with him, confirmed by the testimonies of many boxers, who express their admiration and gratitude for the unconditional support he has given them, which has allowed them to significantly improve their lives.

‘I am nobody to judge any person, and that has been the policy plus ethos of our organisation, to combat all types of discrimination and abuse of power, for any person or group.

‘That is why Daniel will have our full support in his quest to bring benefits to boxing.’

I wonder what Sulaiman has to say now.

There has been a loud knock at boxing’s door this week and if it were up to some, the door would be caved in, and certain individuals would be dragged out. 

Sadly, like other sports we will never be rid of bad eggs because while there are millions to be made unsavoury characters will always look to muscle their way in. How that is handled is down to some such as the ones who were behind the statements and savvy, legally advised quotes given in recent days.

Moving forward the sport has a chance to wipe itself clean of men like Kinahan. The message is simple: Boxing must do better. But will it?