Olympic hero Paddy Barnes has signed for a controversial gym searched as part of an international operation against a Dublin crime cartel.
The double Olympic bronze medal winner, who captained the Irish team at Rio 2016, was unveiled by the MGM gym in Marbella - founded by retired professional Matthew Macklin.
In a statement MGM said they were delighted to confirm that the 29-year-old, who announced that he was turning professional last week, was signed on a management contract.
Barnes, who has no involvement in crime, said: “I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time as an amateur and my achievements are something I am very proud of. Representing Ireland has always been my ambition and now I hope to emulate that success as a professional”.
Paddy had many options when making the decision to turn professional but he said he believed MGM are the perfect choice.
“After the Olympics there was many offers on the table but being part of Team MGM was the natural choice and one I’m delighted with. I honestly believe I have the ideal team to guide me to world title opportunities” he said.
MGM Management said: “Paddy is a special talent."
The gym, which is based in Marbella, was founded by former Irish, British and European Middleweight Champion Matthew Macklin, who is not involved in crime.
Mobster Daniel Kinahan, a son of international drug trafficker Christy Kinahan, is heavily involved in the running of the gym in Marbella.
Last week the facility was searched by Guardia Civil and and visiting gardaí as part of a major international crackdown on the gang.
A source told independent.ie: "The officers said they were looking for two men who used to use the gym ... They took everything, computers, paperwork, the lot."
Barnes revealed last week that his pro debut will be in his native Belfast sometime before Christmas.
“My debut will possibly be before Christmas in Belfast. It’s my home city so it would be great to begin my career there,” said Barnes.
“I’m going to start off at a flyweight, hopefully move through the weights and probably end up bantamweight at the end of my career."