THE Government will be writing to the UK Government and major sports satellite broadcasters expressing “outrage” at the involvement of organised crime boss Daniel Kinahan in the proposed blockbuster boxing showdown between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.
Junior Minister Brendan Griffin made the announcement in the Dáil tonight.
The Fine Gael TD said he was “absolutely appalled” to see what has surfaced in the last 24 hours, alluding to the proposed two-fight deal reputedly brokered by Kinahan between the two world heavyweight champions from England.
“I have today asked officials in my department (of Transport, Tourism and Sport) to draft letters to my counterpart in the UK; also to the broadcasters, Sky and BT, to express our outrage about this situation. It’s completely unacceptable,” said Griffin.
“And my heart goes out to the decent volunteers and participants in boxing around the country who give so much time and effort to their communities.
“Sport Ireland has no connection with professional boxing, but they want to emphasise that in relation to amateur boxing in this country, there is no question whatsoever of any link to criminality.
“And I think the danger is here that the reputation of Irish boxing would be tarnished because of this incident, and that’s grossly unfair to the huge number of people who do great work. And I think that’s important we would emphasise that. But we are taking this very seriously.”
His comments were echoed by Sports Minister Shane Ross, who highlighted the “unparalleled” work of amateur boxing volunteers for their communities.
“It would be absolutely wrong – tragic – if their name was sullied by activities which are completely and utterly unacceptable,” Ross added.
The Kinahan crime organisation found itself front and centre during a Dáil debate called to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on Irish sport.
There was widespread condemnation from all political hues, with Fianna Fáil leading the charge.
Marc MacSharry (FF) asked if the Department of Sport had been in contact with world boxing authorities to register “our abhorrence at, in the words of senior members of the judiciary here, the association with a crime organisation that have caused many deaths, much harm, throughout Ireland and indeed the rest of the world?”
MacSharry added: “Can I also ask did he make contact with Sky Sports, BT Sport, and any other broadcasters who we have a relationship with, to get their opinion on the situation and to again express our abhorrence.”
Jim O’Callaghan (FF) expressed his “disgust” at the development and the decision of major reputable individuals in the world of boxing “to affiliate themselves with and get involved with a leading Irish figure in an international criminal organisation.
“I would ask that Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua and indeed Sky Sports and others involved in this fight inform themselves about the Kinahan criminal organisation,” O’Callaghan continued.
“They don’t have to listen to politicians; they don’t have to listen to the media; but I do think they have to listen to judgements of the Irish courts, in particular a decision by Mister Justice Hunt that was given in the Special Criminal Court last month.
“And in that decision, he noted and he referred to the Kinahan criminal organisation as an organised crime gang involved in execution-type murders, in the context of feuds, to protect its core activities, which include organised drugs and firearms offences of an international scale.
“Now, I would ask the people involved in this fight to inform themselves about that. They can’t just hide from those facts because there’s a lot of money to be made. The lives of people in the inner city of Dublin, who’ve been decimated by the Kinahan criminal organisation, deserve to be recognised by the other people involved in this.”
Darren O’Rourke (Sinn Féin) said he was a boxing club member and very proud of boxing’s contribution to communities across Ireland.
The Meath-East TD called on the State to “make sure that professional boxing is not hijacked by elements that we wouldn’t like to see involved in this, and that Ireland’s name continues to shine strongly on the world boxing stage.”
Dessie Ellis (SF) described the connection between sport and certain families with “very serious criminal backgrounds” as “deplorable” and one that needed to be tackled at the highest level.
Neale Richmond (Fine Gael) paid credit to the Irish Daily Star newspaper on “taking the extremely brave decision not to cover this fight whilst the involvement of Daniel Kinahan continues. And I think there’s a lesson for international press, in particular, to make sure that they look into the full details of what is going on.”
Journalism has always loved boxers, and with good reason. Firstly, those in the sport usually have a great story to tell, as society is sadly structured in a way that means many pugilists come from a rung on the ladder that isn't supposed to produce heroes.