'MGM were the only ones who have actually offered me something' - Paddy Barnes on why he signed for controversial gym searched as part of Kinahan raids
Olympic hero Paddy Barnes has revealed the reason why he signed for a controversial gym searched as part of an international operation against the Kinahan crime cartel.
The double Olympic medal winner, who captained the Irish team at Rio 2016, was unveiled todays by the MGM gym in Marbella - founded by retired professional Matthew Macklin.
In a statement MGM said they were delighted to confirm that the 29-year-old, who announced that he was turning professional last week, was signed on a management contract.
When questioned on RTE Radio One today about the move to join the gym which was searched last week as part of a series of international raids on the Kinahan crime cartel Barnes responded:
"There were a few ones talking. They were asking me to go an sign with them," he told Ray D'Arcy. "They weren't offering me much, they weren't really explaining to me much. MGM were the only ones who have actually offered me something and explained to me the path that they want me to go on. It was only natural and obvious that I was going to go with someone who was going to offer me something."
Barnes admitted that he had read the headlines about raids by the Guardia Civil and gardaí on the MGM gym in Marbella on twitter.
The gym, which is based in Marbella, was founded by former Irish, British and European Middleweight Champion Matthew Macklin, who is not involved in crime.
Mobster Daniel Kinahan, a son of international drug trafficker Christy Kinahan, is heavily involved in the running of the Spanish facility.
Last week the gym was searched by Guardia Civil and and visiting gardaí as part of a major international crackdown on the gang.
Asked about this Barnes claimed that it was only being reported because of a "slow news day".
"I had to expect stuff like that there. In Ireland they are very fond of having slow news days. They have to put something in there to try and sell the papers."
Asked if he looked into the various gyms who were courting him and how these gyms operated, the boxer responded: "I don't care because I'm signing with MGM. I'm not going to be training in Marbella. They're only my management team.
"I feel like they're one of the best management teams in the world. Liam Smith, Martin Murray and BJ Saunders, they're world title challengers and champions. So, if it's good enough for them ones, it's good enough for me."
- Read More: Barnes stepping into a world indifferent to Olympic status as he opts to turn professional
In a statement following this morning's announcement MGM Management said: “Paddy is a special talent."
Barnes revealed last week that his pro debut will be in his native Belfast sometime before Christmas.
“My debut will possibly be before Christmas in Belfast. It’s my home city so it would be great to begin my career there,” said Barnes.
“I’m going to start off at a flyweight, hopefully move through the weights and probably end up bantamweight at the end of my career."