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Fighters hit back at comments Barry McGuigan made during BBC Panorama documentary on Daniel Kinahan

Published On Tuesday, February 2, 2021By Tim Rickson

Boxing responds angrily to allegations Barry McGuigan made in Panorama interview

On February 1, the BBC aired a Panorama documentary about accused mob boss Daniel Kinahan and his alleged grip on professional boxing.

The investigative documentary was aired only days after the five year anniversary of the infamous fatal shooting at Dublin's Regency hotel during the middle of a weigh-in at an MTK Global professional boxing event.

The programme claimed that suspected organised crime boss Kinahan is still 'working at the top of world boxing'.

Kinahan is the co-founder of the Marbella-born boxing promotions company, MTK Global, which manages over 150 fighters.

In the summer, the Dubai-based Dubliner revealed he was stepping back from boxing to 'focus on other interests' after his involvement in organising the mooted fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua caused a public outcry.

In 2018, the Criminal Assets Bureau told the Irish High Court that the Dubliner 'controlled and managed' a criminal organisation.

One of the notable elements of the programme was the presence of legendary Irish boxer turned manager, Barry McGuigan.

McGuigan's involvement with the programme is notable for a few reasons. Most importantly, there has been very little public comment from people inside the world of boxing on Kinahan's role in the sport.

McGuigan last year settled a bitter court case with Carl Frampton, a fighter he once trained and mentored, who left to join MTK in 2017.

The two-weight world champion was believed to be seeking up to £6 million in lost earnings from McGuigan's Cyclone Promotions, but McGuigan's firm brought a countersuit against Frampton regarding the boxer's decision to leave Cyclone for MTK . The case was settled after a trove of missing emails were discovered on the Cyclone computer servers.

As the Panorama programme was aired, a number of fighters aligned to MTK inevitably took to social media to hit back at McGuigan and the comments he made.

Former Southern Area champion Danny 'Cassius' Connor was particularly scathing, "I tell you what that documentary says to me, it's a witch hunt, a very bitter boxing promoter with a reputation for robbing his own fighters, no evidence, the world is full of jealousy and bitterness and boxing is no different evidently."

Two-weight world champion, Billy Joe Saunders tweeted: "What a load of rubbish Irish Government corruption. If a man has done all this with no criminal record and helps out the homeless and sending cancer patients to get cured. Why hasn’t he been put in prison? Rubbish".

He later added: "Also Barry McGuigan give your self a good look in the mirror."

Tyrone McKenna and Derry Matthews joined in the criticism of McGuigan on their Twitter feeds too.

British super-flyweight champion Sunny Edwards blasted, "One things for sure. You're a f***ing idiot if you rely on the BBC for unbiaised news. Everyone knows who the biggest criminals in the world are but we can't speak about them."

Joe Joyce's manager, Sam Jones, joked sarcastically about McGuigan, "This fella is in court every week with his fighters for taking money out their back pockets and is on BBC talking about a man who helps put money in fighters' pockets."

Even boxing news websites felt compelled to comment, as British Boxing Blog stated, "I'm sorry but having Barry McGuigan as your sole boxing voice preaching against MTK just undermines the programme for me. He may be a familiar name to the watcing nation tuning into BBC One right now, but he's certainly not the moral guardian of the sport."

MTK released the following statement about Kinahan's involvement in boxing to the BBC: "It is true that Mr Kinahan provides some personal advice to a number of boxers managed by MTK Global and we are instructed that Mr Kinahan also provides such advisory services to boxers who are managed by other worldwide boxing management companies too.”

In May 2020, former MTK Global CEO Sandra Vaughan felt compelled to completely clarify Kinahan's relationship with her company, categorically stating, "Everyone knows, legally and legitimately, I purchased the business from Matthew Macklin in 2017. There are no ties to Daniel Kinahan, there was no contract or financial transaction, absolutely nothing." Read more...

Shortly after, member and elector of the International Boxing Hall of Fame Bob Yalen replaced Sandra Vaughan as CEO.

The comments were made by Vaughan following the news that Daniel Kinahan had been appointed as special advisor to KHK Sports in Bahrain.

Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa Sports (KHK Sports) is a vision of His Highness Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalif, who described Mr. Kinahan as an 'International boxing power broker operating at the highest levels of combat sports and an advisor for Top Rank in the MENA region'. The partnership was formed in May 2020 due to Daniel's expertise and connections. Read more...

Other viewers made contrasting comments to the backlash, "Scary insight into the Irish underworld and its connection to boxing. I admire Barry McGuigan for being brave and speaking out."

A boxing writer compared the documentary to a Fosters shandy, believing that it was based solely on old news and opinions over facts, and that no convictions have ever been brought against Daniel Kinahan.

A spokesman for Panorama responded to the criticism: "We stand by our journalism".

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