Boxing has been ‘unfairly maligned’ by organised crime connection since Regency Hotel attack: ex-senior garda

Former assistant commissioner believes there should be little concern about trouble at Katie Taylor homecoming fight on Saturday

Boxing has been unfairly maligned due to its association with the Kinahan gang in recent years, a former senior garda said in advance of Katie Taylor’s long awaited homecoming fight in Dublin.

The Bray woman fights UK boxer Chantelle Cameron in the 3Arena on Saturday evening in the first big boxing event to be held in Dublin since the 2016 Regency Hotel shooting, which took place during a weigh-in for an event that would have been held at the National Stadium.

One man, David Byrne, was killed in the attack, leading to a sharp escalation in the Hutch-Kinahan feud which left 18 people dead over a two-year period.

Since then gardaí and insurance companies have refused to sign off on any high-profile boxing events for fear of repeated violence.


There will be extensive security and a significant garda presence at Saturday’s event. However, promoter Eddie Hearn has dismissed reports that specialised security personnel are being flown in from the UK.

John O’Driscoll, the recently retired assistant garda commissioner who has led investigations into the Kinahan cartel, said he does not believe there will be “any problems or issues” arising from the event, and that it is “very far removed from organised crime”.

Mr O’Driscoll said that from a security point of view, he does not think there would have been a problem holding such a fight “at any point”.

He said there are huge problems within the world of boxing but that the sport has been unfairly maligned “to an extent” due to its association with the Kinahans, particularly in inner-city Dublin.

He said if the Regency attack had taken place at a birthday party or in a laneway, it would have received far less attention. The weigh-in was targeted simply because it was where members of the Kinahan gang happened to be gathering, he said.

The gang’s leader, Daniel Kinahan, has attempted to use the sport both to launder money and reinvent himself as a legitimate businessman.

But boxing has always been associated with criminality, going back to the days of the Mafia, the former assistant commissioner said, and there is nothing to suggest this weekend’s event is connected to crime.

The leader of the Hutch criminal gang, Gerard Hutch, who was recently acquitted of any role in the Regency attack, is also deeply connected to Dublin boxing, having helped found Corinthians Boxing club in 1998.

But Hutch never sought to corrupt fighters or benefit from the sport in a criminal way, Mr O’Driscoll noted.

He said Ms Taylor, along with Olympic champion Kellie Harrington, who trained with Corinthians, “are putting boxing back where it should be as a sport that is of importance to inner-city communities without the corruption associated with it.”

Several key people involved in Saturday’s event have previously worked with Daniel Kinahan in the boxing sphere but none are involved in organised crime.

Ms Cameron previously fought under the MTK management company, which was founded by Daniel Kinahan. It shut down last year after Mr O’Driscoll and US law enforcement announced sweeping sanctions targeting Kinahan assets and associates.

A senior Garda source said there will be a garda presence at the fight, just as there would be at any big event, but that “it’s not something we’re overly concerned about.”

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times