Kinahan gang member’s shadow hangs over Irish boxing

Latest boxing-linked shootings remind of criminal connections with the ring

 Katie Taylor with her father Pete Taylor (left): home town fight was deemed impossible  due to security issues around boxing. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Katie Taylor with her father Pete Taylor (left): home town fight was deemed impossible due to security issues around boxing. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

The shadows cast on Irish boxing by the Regency Hotel gangland shooting more than two years ago have never faded. In the wake of Tuesday’s shooting, those shadows are now even longer.

David Byrne was shot dead in the foyer of the Dublin northside hotel on February 5th, 2016. Patrick Hutch (25) subsequently pleaded not guilty to his murder.

The boxing event was hosted by MTK, the Marbella-based boxing outfit co-founded six years ago by Daniel Kinahan, a leading member of the Kinahan crime gang.

Last January, two people were shot and injured outside the National Stadium on Dublin’s South Circular Road, where an under-age amateur boxing event was being staged.

One, a man in his 40s was known to gardaí. The second, a student in his 20s and not linked to crime in any way, was caught in the crossfire. The intended target fled down the South Circular Road towards Griffith College.

A boxing event, featuring five of MTK’s boxers, listed for the Citywest Hotel just a few days afterwards was cancelled when the hotel pulled out on security grounds.

Shortly after Citywest’s decision to cancel, MTK Global said it was quitting Ireland because the Irish media had repeatedly slandered and vilified it and its stable of professional boxers.

Cut ties

In a statement, Sandra Vaughan, the chief executive and sole shareholder of MTK Global, distanced herself and MTK from Kinahan, saying all ties with him had been cut since February 2017 after a management buy-in.

In a written and video statement, she said: “[Nevertheless] the Irish media have continued to vilify MTK Global in all and any mention of Irish boxing and MTK Global-signed boxers.

“This witch hunt by Irish media has left me with no choice but for MTK Global to pull out of the Republic of Ireland for the immediate future. We will not host fight nights in Dublin nor will any MTK Global athletes fight on a Dublin card.”

In July 2017, it was reported that several MTK boxers were training at Bray Boxing Club, the club run by Pete Taylor, the father of Olympic boxing champion Katie Taylor.

However, his daughter, who has since gone on to win International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association titles, no longer trains there. She spends most of her time based in the USA, near Hartford, Connecticut.

The three MTK boxers were heavyweight Sean Turner, a new professional Gary Cully and Irish amateur champion David Oliver Joyce, who competed on the same boxing team as Katie in the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Amateur boxing

Speaking at the time, Pete Taylor explained he was coaching the three boxers for no payment, partly because he knew Joyce from amateur boxing. “It’s my club. I own it.

“I can train who I want. It’s all boxing,” he told a Sunday newspaper. There is no suggestion that Pete Taylor or any of the boxers he coached in Bray were connected with crime.

Last month, Katie Taylor’s manager, Brian Peters, during a press conference in Meath, was asked if the popular 31-year-old Olympic champion could look forward to a home town fight.

Clearly indicating that that would not happen, Peters said: “We’ve had talks with the powers that be and they’ve advised us the climate is not conducive to having a fight night [in Dublin].”

He would say no more, though he was questioned on whether it was off the agenda because of concerns about security at boxing events because of Daniel Kinahan’s known interest in boxing.

“I’m not sure,” he replied. “If you want to run a show, there are sanctioning bodies, the gardaí . . . there are a whole load of boxes you have to tick to put on a show.”

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