When Tyson Fury spoke to reporters ahead of this weekend’s fight against Dillian Whyte, the “Gypsy King” was asked the usual boxing questions in the press conference at Wembley. How was his training camp? How well has he prepared? What’s it been like building up to a world title defence back home in the UK?
He was also asked about his alleged links to Daniel Kinahan, the Irish businessman and reported gang leader, who along with seven members of the Kinahan Organised Crime Group (KOCG) have been placed under sanctions by the US Treasury.
Fury did “not just address the elephant in the room”, said Jeff Powell in the Daily Mail. He “rode it to trample over any suggestion that he has ever been involved in any criminal activity” with the Irishman.
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When Sky Sports News asked what was his relationship with Kinahan and is it ongoing, Fury said: “I’ve just had a million questions about this rubbish before, but like I’ve said to them, it’s none of my business, and I don’t get involved in others’ business, so it doesn’t really concern me.”
Boxing influence now ‘waning’
Kinahan, the alleged leader of the notorious drug cartel run by his family, has for years “enjoyed huge power in the sport”, but “his influence is now waning”, said Donald McRae in The Guardian. “It has become a source of embarrassment and shame for boxing.”
Boxing management firm MTK Global, which was co-founded by Kinahan in 2012, has this week announced that it will cease operations at the end of the month.
In a statement released on Wednesday, MTK Global said it had faced “unprecedented levels of unfair scrutiny and criticism” since the sanctions were imposed, Sky News reported. The company, which had previously listed boxers including Fury and Billy Joe Saunders among its fighters, added that “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”.
When asked if he still had any business with Kinahan, Fury said: “Zero, absolutely zero. It’s none of my business. I keep my own business to myself, that’s it. Has it been a distraction? Not really, it’s got nowt to do with me, has it?”
Investigative reporter Stephen Dempster, who produced a BBC Panorama documentary which brought Kinahan’s involvement in boxing to mainstream attention, told The Guardian that Kinahan is “finished” in boxing. “If the Americans really want to get him, they will. You can now see how the dominoes are slowly falling one by one.”
Drug trafficking and money laundering
Fury and other senior figures in boxing have been warned to “cut all ties” with Kinahan, said Sean Ingle in The Guardian. The WBC heavyweight champion has “previously praised” Kinahan and was photographed with him just weeks ago in Dubai.
At an “extraordinary” press conference in Dublin on 12 April, US ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin revealed that the US Treasury is offering a $5m bounty for information that will lead to the “financial destruction” of the KOCG or the arrest and conviction of its leaders. And Irish police commissioner Drew Harris said the KOCG was worth more than €1bn (£830m) through its criminal activities and warned that if you deal with the individuals who are sanctioned, “you are dealing with criminals engaged in drug trafficking”.
In a statement issued by the US Treasury, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Brian E. Nelson said that the KOCG smuggles deadly narcotics, including cocaine, to Europe, and is “a threat to the entire licit economy through its role in international money laundering”. He added: “Criminal groups like the KOCG prey on the most vulnerable in society and bring drug-related crime and violence, including murder, to the countries in which they operate.”
The Kinahan cartel emerged in Dublin in the 1990s and is regarded by the US as one of the world’s largest crime groups, the BBC reported. And since 2018, when he was named in the Dublin high court as the head of a £1bn drugs and weapons smuggling group, the criminal allegations against Kinahan have “mounted”, Ingle added in The Guardian.
Kinahan, 44, has lived in the United Arab Emirates since 2016, but once again he is “a man without a country”, said Jake Donovan on BoxingScene. Following the US sanctions, the UAE joined in “what has now become a global investigation into the life and accused crimes of the controversial Irish businessman”. The UAE has frozen all identified assets of the KOCG along with issuing sanctions on Kinahan, his father Christopher Vincent “Christy” Kinahan Sr and brother Christy Jr.
With the UAE freezing all his assets and preparing to send him back to Europe to face justice, the “mob boss” was in a “desperate race to escape Dubai” last night, The Irish Mirror reported. The Gardai, Ireland’s police force, also confirmed the US government’s “megabucks deal” for information is already bearing fruit. “He is running out of road,” a source said. “His time in Dubai is coming to an end one way or the other.”
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