| 8°C Dublin

boxer's plea Billy Joe Saunders tells Nicola Tallant to 'write something positive about Daniel Kinahan' in exchange for interview

Write something positive, anything positive about Daniel Kinahan and I’ll get you a big scoop” – quid pro quo.

Close

Billy Joe Saunders

Billy Joe Saunders

Billy Joe Saunders

The text dropped into my direct messages on Sunday afternoon at 14.48. It was Billy Joe Saunders, the boxer who has been at the front of a campaign to canonise mob boss Daniel Kinahan since the BBC Panorama investigation into boxing and the mob.

For a man training for the biggest fight of his life, he meets Mexican Canelo Alvarez in May for a €50 million purse, he sure does seem to have time on his hands. In fact it appears he is moonlighting as a one man press relations agent for boxings favourite patron.

“Would you like to fly over and see Danul Kinhan face-to-face interview or I could set up a zoom call or I could even set you up on a date As Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.”

Two seconds later, a second text arrived: “Serious offer.”

Close

Billy Joe Saunders' message to Nicola Tallant on Twitter.

Billy Joe Saunders' message to Nicola Tallant on Twitter.

Billy Joe Saunders' message to Nicola Tallant on Twitter.

Then another: “If not you just need to get over it I know you’re doing your job and you need to feed your family and fair play to you You are a woman with pride and you’re good at your job but you’re just trying to sell a dead horse here so if you want to get all this resolved and get an interview it’s on the table and he is willing to answer any questions put his way as long he is fairly treated as I’m sure you know the Irish government and media Don’t give him a fish out of the dice or even a say but the ball is in your court. I hope you have a blessed Sunday God bless you and your family.”

Days previous I had indulged in a twitter quarrel with Saunders after he had posted a series of slurs against Barry McGuigan who’d been interviewed on Panorama about the influence of Daniel Kinahan on the sport. Saunders had called McGuigan a ‘rat’ and had inferred something unspeakable about his daughter's tragic death. I hate bullies, always have.

I pondered the message. It was misogynistic, passive aggressive and dripping in insincerity but I’ve come to expect nothing less from Daniel Kinahan’s army of boxing pals.

One thing was sure I wasn’t going to fly out to Dubai and I didn’t want Kinahan to be my Valentine. I have been under threat before from members of the Kinahan Organised Crime Group just like the BBC’s Panorama team and I certainly wouldn’t consider flying out to the belly of the beast. But at the heart of the message was an opportunity to interview the head of the Irish mafia and put to him the real questions that need answering.

“Not interested in a date. Thanks for the offer though (laughing face emoji). I would interview him all right. Zoom could work. Conditions no doubt on both sides,” I typed.

“Ok,” came the reply.

Maybe I’m getting old and a bit too cynical but I could not envisage Daniel Kinahan ever putting himself in the line of fire of questions from me. He’d know I’d want to ask him about the uncomfortable parts of his business like the drug dealing, the weapons smuggling and the murders. But stranger things have happened and since Panorama things on Planet Kinahan have gone all weird.

Later I messaged him again: “If you are serious I would suggest a podcast interview that can be recorded at both ends and put out before anything is written. Which eliminates the interpretation of the interview.”

The response came after midnight Dubai time – Saunders was up late. “Well your being fair and like I saw I nw you have a job to do and I find you a very interesting woman even tho we have are littil spats but it would be grate for his side of the story to be put out as we all nw in life they are always two sides and I can understand your side what you have to write because you have a job to do and I family to feed but let’s give him a chance and get the full truth out who mr kinhan really is….So I will talon TMZ as time zone. Thank you very much for your time and I will be back in touch with you.”

The following day I got a call from a colleague who told me to tune into the UK radio station Talk Sport where a presenter was excitedly telling listeners that Daniel Kinahan had ‘reached out’ to him and that a statement would be forthcoming from him.

Read in-full in first person in a respectable English voiceover it detailed the persecution of a a working class lad who had done good, claimed he had nothing to do with threats to the Panorama team and most importantly hammered home how he was very much still at the heart of boxing powerbroking. If nothing else it would make for a major migraine for Sky Sports and BT sport who have been ducking and diving the involvement of Kinahan in corporate deals for months.

Shortly after the show Billy Joe Saunders messaged me again: “Talk sport?”. “Heard it,” I responded. Then came another question mark.

Later it occurred to me that maybe in Kinahan’s mind the statement issued to Talk Sport was what he construed to be an ‘interview’ and I wanted him to know that I did not. I messaged Saunders: “Just as a matter of interest. That statement? Is that what you were suggesting to me? Because I thought you were suggesting an interview. Which is obviously a completely different thing yeah?”

A little over an hour later he responded: “To be honest with you Nicola I think that Daniel would love to put his side of the story over to his native country where he was born but I just think he will get unfairly looked after as like I said before I know you have to sell your papers but the stuff that’s been put on and I’ve read is very on (un-) truthful so would you be willing to give a fair interview on his side without twisting anything the other way No I’m not suggesting you have any agenda out to get anybody yourself as a person But I do know first hand how the papers work because I’ve been in the position I mean I had the blame of talking about the deceased at one of your colleagues written and that deeply affected me badly because I am definitely not that way inclined to talk about that is the lowest of the low to talk about people is no longer with us and I would love every think on a fair playing field for everybody.”

Saunders was referring to accusations about McGuigan daughter He was right about one thing, that is the lowest of the low.

“I have suggested to you a podcast interview. Recorded. That would mean me asking questions and challenging what he says. But if he doesn’t want to be questioned…….”

And then it came the message even highly paid public relations executives wouldn’t have the neck to send. “You have indeed and I think that you are being fair about that but you know if I can get Daniel to do a zoom call with you that would be a big scope for yourself that’s something I can arrange very easily,” he wrote.

Close

Billy Joe Saunders' message to Nicola Tallant on Twitter.

Billy Joe Saunders' message to Nicola Tallant on Twitter.

Billy Joe Saunders' message to Nicola Tallant on Twitter.

I gathered by ‘scope’ he meant ‘scoop’ – a journalist’s phrase for a big exclusive.

“But let me see you write something anything at all positive about Danul Kinahan even if it’s a smidgen where I can at least show him something you have written positive.

"I’m not asking you to be his best friend but I’m sure you have heard a lot of good about Daniel and it wouldn’t hurt to publish it and if you do that I think it’s fair enough to say you deserve the zoom call I would love to set it up with you as I think that you’re a very intelligent woman but like I say I do understand Bull shitter has to sell in newspapers I’m not saying you publish bullshit because you’re clearly very good at your job and I respect your job but I understand the media can be very difficult at times.”

Close

Billy Joe Saunders' message to Nicola Tallant on Twitter.

Billy Joe Saunders' message to Nicola Tallant on Twitter.

Billy Joe Saunders' message to Nicola Tallant on Twitter.

He finished: “Up to you if you want to do that we can go ahead. Have a good day.”

I won’t be publishing any of Daniel Kinahan’s positive spin and I guess that means, in his mind, I’ve just walked away from the biggest ‘scope’ of my life.


Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors


Privacy