Joanne O’Riordan: Daniel Kinahan is now part of boxing but at what cost?

Most with vested interests in big fights are happy to ignore anything that could harm them

Tyson Fury celebrates his win by TKO in the seventh round against Deontay Wilder in February. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Tyson Fury celebrates his win by TKO in the seventh round against Deontay Wilder in February. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

 

The ESPN 30 for 30 on Andres Escobar, no relation to Pablo, was a source of inspiration for this project. Luz Maria, Pablo’s sister, told the world how Pablo had a massive thing for using his illegal money to open football pitches, invest in teams in the barrios, where some of Colombia’s best footballers honed their skills and talents, such as Alexis Garcia, Chicho Serna, Rene Higuita and Pacho Maturana.

There was another reason why Pablo and his brother, Roberto, wanted a football team. Turnstiles were taking cash, so they could easily declare higher earnings than were actually made, well above a million dollars and immediately ‘clean’ the drug money. A similar trick could be turned with player transfers. At that time, football was a money laundering heaven.

Escobar, and the other cartel’s based in Colombia, knew what they were doing. You would never see Pablo’s name near the team, you would never see those involved in the Cali cartel have their names associated with football, but these powerful and wealthy figures acted as an advisor who also sat in the directors’ box. Close enough, but far away to not tarnish any reputation publicly; an almost open secret of sorts.

Unfortunately, over the last few years, boxing has seen their fair share of Escobar-esque figures, but nobody saw that an Irish cartel honcho, who has no convictions in Ireland, would be the next cartel member to invest in sport. And then Tyson Fury did what all those involved in criminal activity do not want you to do – blast their name across social media for all to see, read about and take note on what is going on.

Dodgy connections

It is fitting, however, that the biggest fight in British boxing history is taking place due to a man with dodgy connections in a place that has dodgy human rights record. Really, if this was a storyline in Narcos, you’d have to remind yourself that some of these stories are exaggerated for entertainment purposes.

But, this isn’t entertainment, and this is no exaggeration. Daniel Kinahan was named by a High Court judge as head of a cartel that has an estimated billion euro fortune from drugs and illegal arms sale. The Kinahan gang has been involved in barbaric and heinous murders in Ireland, and according to police in Spain also.

It is also a gang that you may have heard coming out of Paul Reynolds’ or read on Nicola Tallant’s columns. Daniel Kinahan is not a man you’d have expected to pop up in sports columns and headlines worldwide, especially Tyson Fury’s tweets and Instagram videos, especially while dropping that major announcement.

But, here’s the sad part. Most of those who have vested interests in these fights are not interested in anything that may upset these fights.

Daniel Kinahan has survived PR blunder after PR blunder and has come out of it a wealthier man than ever before. From the Regency Hotel shooting to an assassination attempt in Marbella, where former British, Commonwealth and European champion Jamie Moore, an entirely innocent man, was shot. Add to that the MTK Global fiasco where those who mentioned and questioned Kinahan’s involvement were blacklisted, especially those writing for Irish papers. MTK Global rolled out bizarre press release videos where Daniel Kinahan would be referred to as an advisor, only for him to be distanced from the organisation two sentences later.

Human rights atrocities

While those on a global stage try to grasp who Daniel Kinahan is and what he is about, I can only say good luck. If princes who have been publicly labelled as committing human rights atrocities are saying you’re the bad guy, it kind of says something.

But only those who are interested want to hear, learn and understand. There are many living within a Dublin postcode who are entangled in a web of danger, drugs and murder weaved by the Kinahans. Many fear having their houses destroyed and losing lives who know but can’t speak. Many once sought boxing out as a distraction and as a way to get out, but money and greed poisoned any pure notion of that.

The tribal loyalty will still shout proudly about this historic fight. The vocal critics have ensured every drop of information is available to the public. But once that trash talk starts, the lights go up, and the bell rings, Daniel Kinahan won’t just be a cartel leader in a CAB testimony, he will be etched in sporting history. But, unfortunately, at what cost?

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