Inside dark world of ‘£1billion drug lord’ who helped broker Joshua v Fury fight

An alleged gangster who helped broker the Anthony Joshua v Tyson Fury fight is “terrified” of being arrested before a punch is thrown.

Daniel Kinahan, named in Dublin’s High Court as the Kinahan cartel’s chief, handled Fury’s financial negotiations for the world heavyweight title bout.

He is thought to be holed up in Dubai, from where Irish authorities claim he runs the cartel’s £1billion drugs empire.

Sources say Kinahan, who denies any involvement in criminal activity, hopes to be at the fight which is likely to take place this year, possibly in Saudi Arabia.

But the 43-year-old fears he may be deported from Dubai before then as Irish authorities turn the screw.

Politicians have written to their counterparts in the UAE making them aware he and his cohorts are in the kingdom.

Officials in Dubai are also known to have been in contact with Irish and Spanish police.

“Things are moving forward,” a source said. “There is increasing confidence Daniel and his crew will be deported – we just don’t know where they will then go. The only thing he is terrified of is being arrested and jailed.”

While Kinahan’s name is notorious in Ireland, he is largely unknown in the UK.

A BBC Panorama documentary this month revealed he remains an influential figure in the boxing world.

Some of the sport’s biggest names leapt to his defence after the show aired.

Here the Mirror sheds light on Kinahan’s life, his alleged links to organised crime and the stars who back him.

Who is Daniel Kinahan?

The Dubliner is the eldest son of Christy “the Dapper Don” Kinahan, a convicted drug smuggler now living in Dubai.

His father is said to have passed on control of the cartel’s narcotics and money laundering operation to him in 2016.

In 2009 he was first named as a “suspected international drug trafficker” in a US diplomatic cable to the Pentagon.

Two years earlier Daniel was held by police in Spain along with his father and his brother Christy Jnr on suspicion of drug smuggling. He was not charged.

It is said he took temporary control of the business after Christy Snr was jailed for four years for money laundering. From his £4million mansion in Estepona, Spain, he allegedly helped the cartel to amass a £700million fortune from drug trafficking.

Daniel moved to Dubai, following his father and younger brother, in 2016.

He is banned from entering the United States after being placed on a “narco-terrorist” list by the FBI and DEA.

In a High Court affidavit in Ireland, the Criminal Assets Bureau described how he managed and controlled the day-to-day operations of the gang.

He is currently wanted for questioning by police forces in three countries.

Dubai

Kinahan is thought to be living in a compound on the edge of Dubai with associates and his wife.

According to Irish media, they are protected round-the-clock by crack Russian ex-special forces soldiers.

He boasts a Dubai resident’s card but rarely leaves the compound over fears of attack or arrest.

His brother Christy Jnr, 40, and father Christy Snr, 64, are also based in the UAE.

Kinahan was allegedly seen by DEA agents meeting three other gangsters – Dutchman Ridouan Taghi, pictured, Mafia boss Raffaele Imperiale and Bosnian Edin Gacanin – in Dubai.

There are fears they were planning to form a “super-cartel”. Taghi was arrested in Dubai in December 2019 and extradited to the Netherlands.

Kinahan-Hutch feud
The horrific Regency Hotel shootings in Dublin brought the Kinahan cartel to attention in 2016.

Six gunmen from the rival Hutch gang, including one dressed in drag and others disguised as police officers, stormed the hotel with AK47 assault rifles during a boxing weigh-in.

Their target was Daniel Kinahan, who escaped.

The gunmen murdered alleged cartel enforcer David Byrne and seriously injured associate Sean McGovern.

The shooting sparked years of bloodshed in Ireland, which claimed the lives of at least 15 other people.

The feud had begun a year earlier when Gary Hutch, nephew of gangster Gerry “The Monk” Hutch, was murdered in Spain.

It is believed Gary, who worked for the Kinahans, was shot by their associates, suspected of being an informant.

Former boxer James Quinn was convicted of involvement in the murder and was jailed for 28 years.

A major operation was launched by Irish police to tackle the gangs, and the feud killings appear to have been halted.

Links to the UK
The Birmingham-based Byrne organised crime group allegedly runs the Kinahan cartel’s UK operation.

Liam Byrne, brother of David, who was shot dead at the Regency Hotel, was named in Dublin’s high court as head of the operation.

He was said in court hearings to be heavily involved in drug trafficking and violent crime.

Byrne, 40, moved to the UK in 2019 after his assets were seized by the Irish authorities.

Until recently he was living in a well-heeled area of the West Midlands popular with footballers and bankers.

Another Kinahan lieutenant, Thomas “Bomber” Kavanagh, 53, moved to the UK in 2000. He lived in a fortified mansion in Tamworth, Staffs.

He is awaiting sentence after admitting drug and firearms offences.

Boxing
MTK Global, which has a stable of 250 fighters, was founded by Kinahan and boxer Matthew Macklin in Marbella in 2012.

It has gone on to sign some of fighting’s biggest stars, including Tyson Fury and Billy Joe Saunders.

MTK publicly split from Kinahan in 2017. But the Irishman has remained heavily involved in the sport and has admitted advising fighters.

He made headlines last year after it was reported an agreement had been reached in principle for the Joshua-Fury fight.

Fury posted on social media: “Big shout-out Dan, he got this done, literally over the line.”

The Irish government reacted angrily, calling on broadcasters to boycott the bout. Fury claims to have severed ties with Kinahan last year.

The British Boxing Board of Control has said it is powerless to stop Kinahan advising boxers.

Celebrity reaction
Tyson Fury is Kinahan’s biggest backer and has posted photos of them together.

He has also publicly thanked him for arranging the upcoming Joshua fight.

Other big boxing names are equally gushing. Amir Khan, below, called him “one of the nicest guys I have met” in a Twitter post last week.

Billy-Joe Saunders – the Olympic bronze medallist – refuses to believe Kinahan is involved in criminality.

He said: “I have known Daniel a long time.

“I have always had a very positive relationship with him.

I am aware of the allegations made against him but I simply do not accept them.”

Normal People star Paul Mescal stopped training at an MTK boxing gym in Sydney over the firm’s links to Kinahan.

The organisation tweeted a video of the actor at the venue this month to mark his 25th birthday.

A spokesman for the star said he was “not aware” of the link between the gym and Kinahan.