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Boxer Sunny Edwards describes friendship with Daniel Kinahan as a ‘sensitive topic’

‘I did have a relationship with Daniel, but at the time he was working in boxing. Every promoter was working with him, making fights. That's facts’

Sunny (left) with Kinahan

Sunny Edwards

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

Boxer Sunny Edwards – who once proudly described Daniel Kinahan as a ‘friend’ - has now claimed the cartel boss is “a sensitive topic”.

IBF flyweight champion Edwards was previously a staunch defender of Kinahan and appeared in a number of social media posts with him.

In January, the 26-year-old fighter referred to Kinahan as a “legitimate business man who I’ve been friends with for over 7 years”

As he prepares to defend his title for the third time on Friday evening in Sheffield Utilita Arena against Nicaraguan Felix Alvarado, Edwards was asked about his association with Kinahan.

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Edwards, who was signed to MTK, was one of several fighters to publicly back Kinahan "as a legitimate business" last year before cutting all ties.

"Loyalty" he explained in a new interview with the BBC drove him to defend a then under-fire Kinahan.

Edwards said that building a core team you can rely on is the most difficult thing in a sport with little oversight from a global authority.

However, he queried why boxers have been singled out for their relationships with Kinahan when broadcasters and promoters were happy to do deals with him.

"I did have a relationship with Daniel, but at the time he was working in boxing. Every promoter was working with him, making fights. That's facts," he told the BBC.

"I met a lot of promoters in and around having him involved. He's no longer in boxing and now it's about focusing on the future.

"It is one of those sensitive topics and a hard spot to really answer from because you're damned if you do and damned if you don't."

Edwards was not the only fighter signed to the company that later went under in the wake of the sanctions against Kinahan. Tyson Fury, Savannah Marshall, Josh Taylor and Billy Joe Saunders were all associated with MTK at times in their careers, although none of them have any connection with crime.

Edwards believes more "transparency and accountability" is needed, but believes unless it is applied "top to bottom" the problems will never go away.

He also suggested boxers need more impartial support, even a union, to help them navigate a landscape that is "stacked against" them.

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"The boxers are the smallest cog. It's a thankless job we're doing," he insisted. "There are fighters who have lost their lives earning £800, £600 on the night.

"You have every conversation. When every single promoter in world boxing was willing to make phone calls, meetings with [Kinahan] then why is it up to the boxers to do more? I don't get it.

"There is right and wrong, but why are the smallest cogs the baddest people when promoters were the ones making the conversation?"

"It's a terrible lonely sport and you're playing against the house," he added.

Sunny Edwards

In May of this year, Edwards admitted he didn’t know if he was one of 600 people who had been banned from travelling to the US due to connections with the Kinahans.

Assistant Garda Commissioner John O’Driscoll had revealed that month that US authorities had drawn up a list of 600 people, many who are believed to have links to the world of boxing, who were banned from travelling to America as a result of their links with the Kinahans.

Edwards was asked in an interview with Boxing King Media if he was one of the 600 on the list but he said he didn’t know.

“I’ve never tried flying to the States before so I don’t know. I don’t know. No comment. I’m going to leave this to my legal team. It’ is what it is.”

The British boxer previously took to Twitter to defend Kinahan after someone asked him what he’d do if Daniel’s coke and heroin money stopped coming in.

“Daniel is a legitimate businessman and a man who has also never paid me a penny. True story,” Edwards replied.

He previously described Kinahan as a “friend and adviser”.

“He’s just someone I can call to have a conversation with,” he said.

He also tweeted conspiracy theories about the Regency Hotel shooting earlier this year.

“The police let an assassination attempt on his life happen last time, had clear images of all the culprits and because they’re mates with the govt no arrests were made.”

Edwards, who has no involvement in crime, has said he has been friends with Kinahan since he was 18 and was one of many boxers to rush to Kinahan’s defence on social media in recent years.

A number of boxing figures with links to Kinahan have already been refused entry to the US including his close pal Matthew Macklin who was stopped from travelling to Las Vegas where he was due to commentate on a fight for Sky Sports.

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