herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Boxing chiefs hold summit over fears of gangster links

The body of David Byrne is removed from the Regency Hotel
The body of David Byrne is removed from the Regency Hotel
Former boxer Cllr Kenneth Egan expressed concerns (SPORTSFILE)

Boxing chiefs will hold a summit with senior gardai amid fears over public safety at future events in the wake of the Regency Hotel murders.

A number of respected boxing figures have expressed concern about gangster elements associating themselves with the sport.

Daniel Kinahan, son of crime godfather Christy Kinahan, has been acting as a manager for a number of boxers attached to the MGM gym in Spain in recent years.

It is thought he was the intended target of gunmen who stormed the hotel during a weigh-in for an MGM event, shooting dead one man and seriously injuring two others.

The Boxing Union of Ireland (BUI), which supervises professional bouts, confirmed it had arranged to meet with an assistant garda commissioner and was also seeking discussions with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

BUI president Mel Christle said that the union would be seeking advice in relation to public safety issues.

"We have various suggestions to put to the gardai," he said.

"We have certain ideas, but the reality is since they are responsible for public safety, we want to know how we can help them in relation to that."

When asked if gangsterism was threatening the reputation of Irish professional boxing, Mr Christle said: "I don't wish to speak about it until I have spoken to the proper authorities."

Shootings

Many observers believe MGM, which also has gyms in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow, will be unable to promote fights in Ireland again in the aftermath of the Regency shootings.

Its facility in Marbella is used as the training gym for prominent Birmingham-born Irish fighter Matthew Macklin, who has no involvement in crime.

Talented boxers in the MGM ranks include Jamie Conlan, brother of Olympic medallist Michael, Jamie Kavanagh, Declan Geraghty and Anthony Fitzgerald.

However, Daniel Kinahan has a close association with MGM and has been seen ringside at events involving its fighters.

One reporter made a complaint to gardai after being intimidated by "heavies" in Kinahan's entourage at an event in the National Stadium last year.

Even before becoming associated with MGM, the Kinahan gang had been using professional boxing fights in Dublin for crime summits.

Among those expressing concerns about gangster elements associating themselves with boxing were former Olympians Mick Dowling and Kenneth Egan.

Mr Dowling said it was difficult for himself and Mr Egan, a Fine Gael councillor, to stick their necks on the line by speaking out. However, he said there was considerable support for their views.

"There haven't been any major incidents [at the National Stadium], but I would be surprised if they gave a licence to MGM again. I would be shocked," he said.

Mr Dowling predicted a bleak future for professional boxing in Ireland if criminals continue to be involved.

"The vast majority of boxing folk are good, decent, law abiding people," he said.

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