The rise of KSI, the 25-year-old millionaire who’s fighting Logan Paul after inventing YouTube boxing matches

Olajide

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Olajide “JJ” William Olatunji, as known as KSI.
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Getty

You’re only going to hear more about KSI over the next month.

The 25-year-old British YouTube star is facing off against one of the biggest and most controversial vloggers on the planet: Logan Paul. The two will duke it out at a boxing match at Manchester Arena in August, which has a 21,000 capacity.

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 pounds 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.


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.

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KSI/YouTube

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.

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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.

Olajide

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Getty

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.

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FIFA 18.
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EA

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

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KSI/YouTube

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.

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KSI made enough money to buy and customise a Lamborghini.
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Yiannimize/YouTube

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.”

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Simon Minter, aka Miniminter.
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Getty

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

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The Sidemen.
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Sidemen/YouTube

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.

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ComedyShortsGamer

Out of all the Sidemen members, KSI has the biggest following with 18 million subscribers.


He’s a young millionaire, with estimated annual earnings of up to £2.3 million, according to SocialBlade. Asked about his wealth by TV presenter Piers Morgan, he said: “I’m doing alright.”

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GMB/YouTube

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

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KSI/YouTube

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

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ComedyShortsGamer, KSI’s brother.
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ComedyShortsGamer/YouTube

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

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KSI/YouTube

KSI is about to become even richer after he 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.

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Joe Weller.
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Joe Weller/YouTube

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.

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KSI/YouTube

Here’s the full fight:


He’ll be taking on a much more popular and controversial YouTuber, Logan Paul, in August 2018 at the 20,000 capacity Manchester Arena. The event is expected to net the pair millions.

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Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

They 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.

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Logan Paul/YouTube

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.”