The rise of KSI, the 26-year-old YouTube millionaire who beat Logan Paul in a professional boxing match

KSI

  • British YouTube star KSI battled US vlogger Logan Paul in their second livestreamed boxing match on Saturday, winning by an incredibly narrow margin.
  • His first match with Logan Paul was in August 2018 and ended in a draw.
  • London-born KSI — real name Olajide “JJ” William Olatunji — pioneered YouTube celebrity boxing matches after making a name for himself playing the video game FIFA on the platform.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

More than a year after YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul first stepped into the boxing ring, KSI has emerged the victor. 

KSI, the 26-year-old British YouTube star, faced off against controversial vlogger Logan Paul once again in a YouTube celebrity boxing match on Saturday. The pair battled it out at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which holds 21,000 people. The bout was a re-match following their first fight in August 2018 in Manchester, England — and KSI won by an extremely thin margin.

YouTube boxing matches are a hot new trend, kickstarted by KSI. Although the British vlogger first made his name playing video games on YouTube, he’s pioneered boxing events as a way to whip up famous YouTubers’ huge followings. The real-life matches could generate millions of dollars in ticket, merchandise, and streaming sales.

Here’s how KSI, real name Olajide “JJ” William Olatunji, went from a suburban London upbringing to becoming one of the biggest YouTube stars in the world.

SEE ALSO: Logan Paul reveals his plans to become a professional boxer, release a music album, and try out TikTok in the future

KSI was born in London, after his parents moved to the UK from Nigeria. “They would work their asses off,” he told The Sun in an interview.

He eventually moved with his parents out to the suburbs of Watford and went to a fee-paying school. It would now cost you £20,000 ($26,000) a year to send your child to the “posh” Berkhamsted School.

Despite the expensive education, KSI said he discovered YouTube from the age of about 15 and ended up failing his A-Levels. “Back then, people would be like: ‘What are you doing? You’re such a weirdo. Why are you making videos online?'” he told the Sun.

He created his first YouTube channel in his early teens, the now-defunct “JideJunior.” Almost all the videos feature KSI playing “FIFA 08,” a theme that would continue in his main YouTube channel.

Eventually, JJ would adopt the name “KSI”, which stands for “Knowledge, Strength, Integrity.”

In 2010, KSI created his main channel and began posting game play footage from “FIFA 11.” He began to amass a big following, and after just two years in he made enough money from YouTube ads and sponsorship to drop out of school.

KSI teamed up with six other YouTube gamers to form a group of creators called The Sidemen. “A sideman is basically someone’s bitch who just follows them around,” said fellow Sidemen member Miniminter in an FAQ. “I was basically JJ’s [KSI’s] bitch that followed him around.”

The Sidemen brand and channel mostly revolved around the YouTubers playing video games and charity football matches with each other.

The Sidemen would go on to live together in various plush houses in London. Their latest is a mansion at an undisclosed location in South London. It’s thought that’s where KSI lives.

Out of all the Sidemen members, KSI has the biggest following with 20.5 million subscribers.

He’s a young millionaire, with estimated annual earnings of up to £1.5 million, according to SocialBlade.

Asked about his wealth by TV presenter Piers Morgan, he said: “I’m doing alright.”

KSI also branched out into music, posting “diss” tracks insulting other YouTubers – including his fellow Sidemen. The drama keeps viewers hooked.

KSI’s younger brother Deji is also on YouTube, posting under the name ComedyShortsGamer. The two often cross over into each other’s channels.

KSI and Deji’s relationship sometimes grows turbulent. The brothers feuded on Twitter on Christmas after KSI was allegedly thrown out of their family home.

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KSI has had some controversy. He was banned from a Eurogamer event and sponsor Microsoft dropped ties with him last year after he made sexist remarks to attendees. He subsequently apologised.

KSI pioneered a new genre of crossover: The YouTube boxing match.

His first fight was against Joe Weller, a YouTube creator on the same talent network (OP Talent).

The YouTube boxing match involves two famous personalities fighting each other just like a real match. KSI fought Weller in London’s Copper Box Arena in 2017 and won the fight.

Here’s the full fight:

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His most high profile fight to date was against Logan Paul in August 2018 at the 20,000 capacity Manchester Arena.

The two whipped up anticipation for the fight in a bad-tempered press conference in London, in which KSI hurled insults at Paul’s girlfriend and family.

The fight was a majority draw, with two judges giving the YouTubers equal points and a third giving the edge to KSI.

21,000 people packed out the stadium to watch the fight, and over 800,000 people watched it via YouTube’s pay-per-view service.

Business Insider calculated the match generated as much as $11 million in revenue.

KSI and Logan Paul’s younger brothers, Deji and Jake Paul, also fought.

Jake Paul won the match after five rounds.

The two organized a rematch, took place on Saturday in LA at 8 p.m.

The second match took place in a more professional setting. Neither of the fighters wore headgear, and both were drug-tested.

Both men have professional boxers’ licenses.

The match was promoted by Eddie Hearn, who has worked with boxing superstars like Anthony Joshua.

KSI and Anthony Joshua occasionally trained together. KSI told Behind the Gloves that Joshua advised him to “train hard, remain focused and be calm” ahead of the fight.

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But KSI’s main trainer was Jeff Mayweather, uncle of boxer Floyd Mayweather.

The two YouTubers busily hyped up their fans for round two. In a press conference in September Paul mocked KSI’s Christmas argument with his brother Deji and said he smelled “like herpes.”

Justin Bieber expressed support for Logan Paul.

KSI responded: “Bieber’s an idiot for backing Logan Paul… If he is gonna be at the fight I’ll be sure to lock eyes with him so he can see his boy knocked out.” When asked if he’d ever fight Bieber he said: “No, that’s stupid.”

The match was extremely close, but KSI won.

Two out of three judges ruled KSI the winner: with one judge scoring it 56-55, another 57-54. The third ruled in Paul’s favor at 56-55.

Logan Paul was given a two-point penalty by the referee for holding KSI behind the head and hitting him while he was down.

Some commentators found the penalty to be overly-harsh.

Jake Paul tweeted protesting his brother’s point deduction.

“My brother won that fight and is clearly a better boxer. KSI was SAVED with the decision the referee made,” Paul tweeted.

KSI said there will be no third fight.

“It’s done fam, it is done,” KSI said when asked if he’d fight Logan Paul again.

KSI said he’s successful because he creates new trends. “When it came to diss tracks I found my way into that,” he told Esquire. “Now with boxing, I’ve created a new trend. I’ve always adapted well, and that’s what’s led to my success.”