Report: ESPN drops MTK show after US sanctions Daniel Kinahan for alleged ties to organized crime

This week, the US government named Daniel Kinahan as a key figure in what is being called the Kinahan Organized Crime Group, an Ireland-based drug trafficking ring believed to be worth over $1 billion. The U.S. government also sanctioned Kinahan, barring any U.S. citizen or company from doing business with him. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency also placed a $5 million reward for any information leading to Kinahan’s arrest and/or conviction or a halt to KOCG operations.

Kinahan is the co-founder of Macklin’s Gym Marbella, a company that later renamed itself MTK Global. MTK is one of the strongest boxing promoters and management companies in the sport. He represents Tyson Fury, Billy Joe Saunders, Carl Frampton, Lee McGregor and dozens of other professional boxers. MTK’s MMA roster includes top UFC talent Darren Till, Aleksander Rakic ​​and Talia Santos.

MTK today released a statement regarding the sanctions against Kinahan. In this statement, MTK continued to claim that Kinahan was not involved in their business. Their full statement reads as follows:

MTK Global will fully comply with US government sanctions against Daniel Kinahan.

MTK parted ways with Mr. Kinahan in February 2017. Since then he has had no interest in the business and will have no future involvement with us.

MTK operates in an ethical, transparent and legal manner. We will fully cooperate with all authorities and assist with any ongoing investigations.

“MTK Global will take all steps to ensure that the company, and those who do business with it, fully comply with the US sanctions announced this week and take this matter very seriously,” added Bob Yalen, CEO of MTK Global.

MTK began to distance itself from Kinahan after the Regency Hotel shooting in 2016. That shooting targeted an MTK weigh-in show and resulted in the death of David Byrne, an alleged top KOCG lieutenant.

Authorities believe Kinahan was the target of this shooting and that the attack was carried out by the Hutch gang in retaliation for a number of gang killings in Ireland and Spain.

Despite repeated statements from MTK that Kinahan is no longer with the company, many of MTK’s top talent have repeatedly disclosed that Kinahan remains one of their top advisors.

In 2020, Fury publicly thanked Kinahan for brokering his deals to fight Anthony Joshua. UFC’s Fury and Till have also been pictured with Kinahan on several occasions over the past two years.

According to Lance Pugmire MTK’s claims about their association, or lack thereof, with Kinahan might not be enough to calm their major broadcast partner’s nerves. It reports that ESPN+ has dropped plans to broadcast an MTK event from the UK this Friday.

MTK was not on the list of US-sanctioned companies alongside Kinahan. Ducashew Consultancy is among the sanctioned companies. And, according to internet sleuths, Ducashew bears striking similarities to MTK.

MTK and Ducashew offices in Dubai are located in adjacent suites in the Jumeirah Bay Tower, according to data provided by DMCC Authority.

According to Twitter user countermole, an infamous image of Till posing with Kinahan (and MTK’s special adviser for Bahrain Al Araydeh) was taken at Ducashew’s offices.

In 2020, MTK, according to entries made on the online register of the UAE Ministry of Economy, has appointed Khalid Abdulrahman Mohammad Aljassmi as the responsible director of MTK. DMCC Authority Records list Aljassmi is the license manager for Ducashew.

In addition to ESPN, MTK’s most high-profile business relationships include Top Rank, the UFC and clothing brand Everlast. It’s unclear at this time if these US-based companies will also opt out of working with MTK for fear of violating federal laws.

Bloody Elbow has reached out to the UFC for comment on its stance regarding MTK’s treatment. At the time of writing, no response has been received.