The Irish Times view on Daniel Kinahan: Boxing looks away

Boxing has always been fixated with the unsavoury. Daniel Kinahan is the latest

Daniel Kinahan has been named in court here as part of a global drugs cartel yet there is little echo of his name outside Irish borders. Photograph: Collins

Daniel Kinahan has been named in court here as part of a global drugs cartel yet there is little echo of his name outside Irish borders. Photograph: Collins

 

In 1974 an American adviser to Zaire’s dictator Mobutu Sese Seko persuaded Mobutu that the publicity of a boxing match between heavyweights George Foreman and Muhammad Ali would help his regime. It became the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’. Libyan dictator Muammar Gadafy was a financial sponsor.

The following year, Ferdinand Marcos, then president of the Philippines, staged and sponsored the third heavyweight title fight between Ali and Joe Frazier in Manila to focus attention on the Philippines as a “great” nation, having declared martial law three years earlier in 1972. Promoter Don King, a two time killer, was involved in both events.

Boxing has always been fixated with the unsavoury. Daniel Kinahan is the latest. His central role as a broker for the multimillion euro title fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury has caused dismay and disgust in Ireland.

Kinahan has been named in court here as part of a global drugs cartel yet there is little echo of his name outside Irish borders. The sport has, as always, looked away. The boxers do not care to know, while an indifferent Fury has been criticised for effusively praising Kinahan.

Fury understands outrage, his emanating from growing up as a Traveller in England. As an outsider, his is the anger of the marginalised and disadvantaged, many of whom belong to the company with which Kinahan is associated, MTK Global. It doesn’t justify or excuse the easy acceptance of Kinahan into the highest echelons of the sport. But boxing, with its myriad of sanctioning bodies, is not united in the way rugby or soccer are. Money deals as much as boxing merit decide fights. Characters like Kinahan with access to finance not only fit in but are welcomed.

Any hope of cultural change in boxing seems remote and the appeal by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to the United Arab Emirates, where Kinahan lives, is unlikely to prompt a change of heart. Saudi Arabia, where the bout is expected to take place next summer, is the new Zaire, the new Manila, and Kinahan its aspirant Don King.

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