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Sports journalism and the rise of Daniel Kinahan | Sunday Paper Review

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

18:06 17 May 2020

Journalist Kieran Cunningham believes that sports journalism has largely failed to question the relationship between Daniel Kinahan, MTK Global and Kinahan's rise to prominence in international boxing.

Cunningham joined the Sunday Paper Review at the end of a week where Bob Arum confirmed that he is working with Kinahan in relation to boxing match-ups in the Middle East, where Kinahan currently resides.

Talks are ongoing about a potential $500m fight between MTK-managed Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, with Middle Eastern staging a potential outcome after Joshua fought Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia last year.

It is on this backdrop that Cunningham aired his frustration, believing that the lack of inquiry is to the detriment of sports journalism.

"Tyson Fury is the first heavyweight to make a big impact in America, probably since Mike Tyson. His personality, what some see as his charisma - they have bought into it, big time," said Cunningham.

"Daniel Kinahan was a key broker in this. I have to be honest, I am astonished that there is not more in the papers today on this story - to me, it is the big Irish sports story.

"This is a big, global sports story with an Irishman - a very controversial Irishman - at the centre of it."

Cunningham rued the lack of coverage in some major newspapers, while praising the work of the likes of Nicola Tallant, the Investigations Editor of the Sunday World.

"This story has exposed a failure of the sports media. We sometimes get defensive about being dismissed as the 'toy department', but the running of this story, over the last number of years, has been done by crime correspondents.

"A lot of us in sport haven't wanted to know about, or have come very late to, this story.

"A lot of people are uncomfortable with this story - there is a fear factor."

Kinahan-MTK

Fury is co-promoted by Bob Arum of Top Rank and Frank Warren, with MTK Global - the company that Kinahan helped to co-found - acting as his management.

Arum has confirmed that Kinahan is acting as an 'advisor' to Top Rank in relation to Middle Eastern fights, with his current residence being Dubai.

"I’m not naive. I was a federal prosecutor myself. I’m saying I can disregard all of that stuff. It doesn’t affect me. It hasn’t affected me," said Arum when asked about the background of the Kinahan family.

“When it does, I’ll have to deal with it. But right now, I have absolutely no involvement with the Irish authorities. Nobody has come to me, nobody has questioned me.

“So my philosophy is, ‘Stick to your business son’ —  meaning me. Stick to your business and don’t be distracted by the background noises.”

Boxing

The relationship between media and MTK has been a fraught one. The company was previously 'MGM', co-founded by Kinahan and Matthew Macklin in Spain.

The link between Kinahan and MTK has led to concerned inquiry from the media and led to MTK imposing a media ban in February 2018, with Macklin blaming 'widespread media propaganda' for the decision.

That ban came to and end in January 2019, but concern over boxers' associations with the Kinahan family continue, despite Daniel Kinahan having not been convicted of any criminal offence.

MTK Chief Executive Sandra Vaughan last week told a media company associated with MTK that she bought the company from Kinahan and he has no role in the outfit.

"He wants MTK to do well, he wants that,  he was the founder of MTK - he wants it to do well, all that was taken away from him, he has stepped away," said Vaughan to iFL TV.


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