Boxing’s image continues to suffer as the Daniel Kinahan saga rolls on, writes Matt Christie
DANIEL KINAHAN, an influential boxing ‘advisor’, is not going away quietly. The Irishman is determined to be a legitimate figure in the sport despite last week’s BBC Panorama programme suggesting he should be in prison instead.
Living in Dubai, and reportedly wanted for questioning closer to home, Kinahan finds himself in the very difficult position of proclaiming his innocence in a world largely convinced of his guilt. That innocence is being expressed in statements to the media and that desire to remain in boxing is doing the sport he is “blessed to be involved in” no favours whatsoever.
The latest statement – which was acquired by TalkSport on Monday (February 8) – responded to claims that the Panorama team had been threatened as a consequence of the programme’s content. Kinahan said he has not, and would not, threaten journalists. It also stated that he remains in boxing and will do so for the foreseeable future.
“There is no evidence or proof against me,” the statement read. “I have said repeatedly: I have no criminal record anywhere in the world. Sections of the media ask that I disprove a negative. This is impossible but it shows what I’m up against.”
It’s natural to wonder why, if he’s innocent and wants to be accepted in boxing, he is not seeking to authenticate his standing in the sport by applying for licences within the territories where he works.
In Britain, Kinahan is not a licence holder and has never applied for a licence. Anyone applying for a manager’s licence needs at least three years’ documented boxing experience (within the last 10 years). However, should Kinahan want to apply for a matchmaker’s or trainer’s licence he is welcome to do so.
“We would look at his application like we look at all applications,” the BBB of C’s Robert Smith told Boxing News. “But there are lots of things that would need to be completely cleared up before we’d even consider giving him a licence, namely with the Irish authorities.”
So for Kinahan to roam free in boxing, or more accurately, for the sport to acknowledge his presence, he will first have to convince the Irish authorities he is indeed an innocent man. One can argue, then, there is as much an onus on Kinahan to prove he belongs as there is on the sport to prove he doesn’t.
One person who does have an active manager’s licence with the Board is Barry McGuigan. The former world featherweight champion and International Hall of Famer was a key figure in the BBC documentary, as he spoke of his concerns about Kinahan’s growing influence and losing boxers he managed to MTK Global.
In turn, McGuigan – who lost his daughter in 2019 – has been attacked on social media from some fans and even boxers and trainers associated with MTK. The Irishman and his former fighter, Carl Frampton – now managed by MTK – went to court last year over a managerial dispute before it was settled by both parties without judgement.
McGuigan, it should be noted, has won every single case that went in front of the Board regarding contract disputes with boxers he’s managed. It was ruled in each case that the contracts his boxers signed were both fair and legally binding. The Frampton case did not go in front of the Board.
The vile and public abuse McGuigan has faced in recent days is another black eye for the sport.
What does boxing do now?
It’s perhaps too easy to blame the sport for not doing more. If the law enforcement authorities have not yet achieved a conviction, boxing is in a difficult position when Kinahan is not licensed under any governing body. Questions are being asked of those that can make a difference.
Eddie Hearn, who was named in the programme as having dealings with Kinahan in the past, accepts this is not a good look for the sport. “Anything that represents boxing in a bad light is never good for the sport,” he told BN. “The show we saw the other night didn’t tell the hardcore boxing audience anything different because that story has been told but what it did do was open that story up to a much wider audience which is not good for boxing. That is the wider audience that I’m trying to convince to come into boxing.
“From our perspective, we have no say over who manages, advises or represents fighters – that would be a complete conflict of interest as a promoter. We will deal with who we’re instructed to deal with from a fighter to make the fights that the fans and the broadcasters want to see.
“Yes, of course [it makes my job more difficult]. Anything that portrays the sport badly is bad news for me. It can stop the progress. It’s definitely not ideal.”
It’s far from ideal. The sport, by association, is being dragged into the mire.