NewsCrime Desk

Boxing’s shameful blind eye to Irish crime lords

Crime DeskBy Alan Sherry
Matthew Macklin and Daniel Kinahan
Matthew Macklin and Daniel Kinahan

PABLO ESCOBAR had his football team. John Gilligan an equestrian centre.

For the Kinahans, boxing was the route to respectability.

Despite the shock that a gang war broke out at a weigh-in event last Friday, few people in boxing should have been unaware of the MGM Marbella stable’s uncomfortable links to organised crime through its association with Daniel Kinahan.

Kinahan in the ring

He manages many of the gym’s fighters with former European champion Matthew Macklin, who has no involvement in crime.

This exclusive picture shows Kinahan and Macklin posing with Gary Hutch, whose murder would spark the current feud.

Kinahan, Macklin and Hutch

And despite being recognised as the head of a crime cartel, Kinahan has welcomed a host of well-known faces from the sporting world through the doors of MGM.

In a few short years it has grown into one of the biggest boxing operations in Europe, with three further gyms opening in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

Boxing legends Frank Bruno and Katie Taylor, along with former Liverpool player and manager Graeme Souness, former Celtic striker John Hartson and former Ireland midfielder Graham Kavanagh, are just a few of the well-known faces to have visited the Marbella headquarters. 

John Hartson at MGM

None have any involvement in crime and were probably unaware of Kinahan’s crime links, but their visits show how MGM has gained an air of respectability in the sports world.

It has signed up top boxing talent including Jamie Conlan – brother of Olympic medallist Michael – Declan Geraghty, Anthony Fitzgerald and Jamie Kavanagh.

Gary Finnegan and Graeme Souness

MGM promotions have staged big draw fights in Ireland, Spain, Scotland and England in recent times.

They have become the biggest players in the Irish boxing scene and were predicted to become the biggest in Europe before last week’s events.

Now insiders say another casualty of the Regency shootings will be the pro-fight game in Ireland itself.

Questions have to be asked about why the Kinahans were welcomed as the leading force in running professional bouts here.

Frank Bruno at the MGM

None of the boxing stars linked to the gym have any involvement in crime.

However, they should be aware of Daniel Kinahan’s links to crime.

Kinahan may regularly feature in the news pages of the Sunday World, but he has often appeared in the sporting press in Ireland and other countries with no mention of his links to organised crime.

He has even featured in the society  pages of glossy magazines in his Costa del Sol base. In one snap he was pictured with well-known UK promoter Barry Hearn.

While the Kinahan Cartel is regularly reported on in Ireland, it has not gone unnoticed in other countries.

International media descended on Spain in May 2010 when Daniel Kinahan and several associates, including his father Christy Kinahan and brother Christy Jnr, were arrested in a major pan-European police operation.

The gang also made headlines across Europe when former champion boxer Jamie Moore, who was training Macklin, was shot in a case of mistaken identity outside Daniel Kinahan’s Costa del Sol mansion in 2014.

Jamie Moore in action 

The murders of Gerard ‘Hatchet’ Kavanagh, father of MGM boxer Jamie Kavanagh, and Gary Hutch in Spain in the past two years also brought further attention.

One boxing source told the Sunday World that after Bernard Dunne finished there was a slump in Irish boxing and MGM had started to build it back up again.

“They were the biggest in Ireland and wanted to be the biggest in Europe,” the source said.

“They’d put on three shows before this and last weekend would have seen two more shows. You had 17 Irish fighters taking part between the two shows.

“Having Macklin associated made it a big draw and he has no involvement in anything untoward.

 “You had criminals following his career and then becoming friendly with him, but what can he do? He can’t tell them to f*** off. You’d have to feel sorry for him.”

MGM Gym

The source said it was hard to see MGM coming back from last Friday’s events, but not impossible.

“I’d be very pessimistic about it getting back up and running again under the circumstances. It would be hard to see BoxNation [pay per view boxing channel] coming back and if you don’t have TV covering it, it’s very hard to put on a show. On top of that, what sponsor is going to want to be associated with it?”

“Crime and boxing have always had close associations. 

“Nowadays in Ireland MGM is nearly the only show in town when it comes to pro boxing.”