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Former chief of MTK Global Bob Yalen refuses to talk about Kinahan connection

Yalen served as MTK’s President and CEO since 2018, before he resigned from the position following the US Government’s veto to impose sanction on the Kinahan cartel

Bob Yalen

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Bob Yalen, the former chief of MTK Global which was set up by Daniel Kinahan, refused to comment when he was asked about his past association with the Irish crime boss last week.

Yalen, who has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, was approached by the American media outlet on Friday.

After he was given the sport's highest honour over the weekend in the Canastota museum in upstate New York, he was asked three questions about his work with MTK Global and prior affiliation with Kinahan.

However, Yalen said he could make no comment on MTK Global which was co-founded as MGM Marbella by the former boxer Matthew Macklin and reputed Irish crime boss Kinahan.

“I can't comment … I just can't get into it,” Yalen told the reporter.

MTK Global president Bob Yalen

There is no suggestion Macklin or Yalen are linked to any criminality, while Kinahan has never been convicted of a crime.

However, in April the US announced it was imposing the sanctions on seven "key members" of the Kinahan cartel, including leaders Daniel and Christy Kinahan Jnr and their father Christy Snr.

The sanctions against the Kinahan gang and its associated businesses in the UK and the United Arab Emirates mean US banks and companies cannot do business with the Kinahan organised crime group members and three designated businesses that were also been identified.

The sanctioned individuals also include gangster Liam Byrne's former right-hand man, Sean McGovern; Ian Dixon - a relative of Daniel Kinahan's mother; Bernard Clancy, a childhood neighbour of the Kinahans who grew up in the Oliver Bond flat complex, and ex-CAB target Johnny Morrissey.

MTK Global insisted over the years that Kinahan had stepped away from the company, before it announced that it would cease operations at the end of April.

Yalen told Mike Coppinger in a story for The Athletic in 2020 that: "Daniel's going to be taking time away from the sport to focus on other interests.

"Hopefully this will put a stop to the negative press … that's based entirely on hearsay."

Insider reported that Kinahan never took time away from boxing and wielded enough influence in the months and years to come that he would arguably have been one of the most powerful people in the game at the peak of his boxing career.

“We asked Yalen whether he regrets making that comment — that media reports were based on hearsay — given that politicians, law enforcement officials, and now the US government have all said Kinahan is an alleged organised crime boss,” Insider reported.

"I can't comment," he told us. "I just can't get into it."

Yalen, who served as MTK’s President and CEO since 2018, before he resigned from the position following the US Government’s veto to impose sanction on the Kinahan cartel, was inducted alongside others in a ceremony in June.

“Bob Yalen can now add Hall of Fame to his resume which includes 6 sports Emmy awards, associate editor of the Ring Record Book, boxing producer at ABC and NBC and president/CEO of MTK Global,” the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) states on its website.

“Yalen (who) developed an interest in boxing at a young age and while still in high school began researching fight records and created the newsletter This Month At Ringside,” his citation reads.

After detailing his interest and involvement in the sport, it adds: “In 2018 he joined MTK Global and was appointed President and CEO, overseeing the management of 300 boxers including champions Josh Taylor and Tyson Fury.”

Last month Yalen announced he was stepping down from his role due to “personal reasons.”

Yalen resigned from the position following the “pressure of the last few weeks” after the company’s co-founder, Kinahan, was sanctioned by the US Government.

Reps for MTK announced Yalen’s departure in a statement, writing: “We regret to announce that Bob Yalen has today stepped down as CEO of MTK Global for personal reasons.

“We would like to thank him for all of his efforts on behalf of the business and his leadership of our team.”

Yalen added: “I am incredibly proud of the success of MTK Global and I feel privileged to have served as President and CEO since 2018.

“However, the pressure of the last few weeks has been particularly intense. I need to consider the impact on myself and my family. So after four years leading MTK, I think it’s time for me to step aside to take on new challenges.”

A day after Yalen resigned, MTK Global announced it had taken the difficult decision to cease operations due to “unprecedented levels of unfair scrutiny and criticism”.

The statement from MTK reads: “As a business we have faced unprecedented levels of unfair scrutiny and criticism since the sanctioning by the US government of Daniel Joseph Kinahan."

“It is a matter of public record that Mr Kinahan’s involvement in MTK ceased in 2017, and despite repeated reassurances in this regard, unfounded allegations about his ongoing association with us and our fighters persist.

“Since leading promoters have now informed us that they will be severing all ties to MTK and will no longer work with our fighters, we've taken the difficult decision to cease operations at the end of this month.

“MTK prospered because we always put the long term interests of our fighters at the heart of what we do.”

It adds: “Our priority in the weeks ahead will be to ensure that our world class boxers are supported to find new partnerships as swiftly as possible.

“Thank you to all the fans who have supported us over the last decade."

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