- KSI is the popular British YouTuber who is taking on fellow vloggers in real-life boxing matches.
- He’s about to take on American YouTuber Logan Paul in a massive fight in Manchester, UK.
- If he wasn’t a YouTube superstar, he would have gone to university and studied computer science, he told Business Insider in an interview ahead of the match.
- Once he’s done fighting fellow YouTubers, he wants to fight a professional boxer.
KSI is one of the most famous people in the UK, though you wouldn’t necessarily know it from the news channels.
He is the 25-year-old British YouTube star who became famous off the back of gaming videos, but he’s reached new levels of fame by taking on rival vloggers in real-life boxing matches. His first bout was with fellow Brit Joe Weller, but his next is a much more ambitious match against controversial US YouTuber Logan Paul.
The match takes place in Manchester, UK on Saturday 25 August and could draw up to 21,000 attendees, and hundreds of thousands of viewers on YouTube.
Business Insider travelled to Manchester to meet with KSI – real name Olajide “JJ” Olatunji – to talk about his path to fame, and his plans for a post-YouTube future.
The KSI of YouTube is pretty abrasive. He’s known for making off-colour jokes about sex and women, and his pre-fight trash talk against Logan Paul hasn’t exactly been sportsmanlike. When Business Insider meets him, however, he’s surprisingly calm, collected, and polite, shaking hands and taking care to listen to questions.
Later in the day, the KSI persona would be back on show for the pre-match weigh-in with his opponent. KSI came on-stage wearing a mask of Chloe Bennett, Paul’s actress girlfriend. Bennett is a sensitive topic, given KSI has made lewd remarks about her before.
Here’s our full interview with him, lightly edited for clarity.
Q&A with YouTuber KSI:
Business Insider: What have you been up to over the last few days?
KSI/JJ: I don’t know, like, training. Doing pads, just the standard stuff. A lot of the training has been before this week, making sure I’m in the right mindset, and making sure we have fun and not worrying about winning or losing.
BI: How are you feeling about it?
KSI: Yeah yeah yeah, very good.
BI: Is Logan in the UK at the moment?
KSI: Yeah yeah, Logan’s in the UK.
BI: Are you hanging out?
KSI: No. [Laughs]. No!
BI: Maybe you guys are friends behind the scenes, I don’t know.
KSI: Really, no, no! Even with my last fight, Joe [Weller], I still haven’t talked to Joe since the ring.
- Logan Paul / YouTube
BI: Really? He’s been doing some analysis of you [and Logan Paul].
KSI: Yeah, he loves it. He’s in a good spot though.
BI: Are you not on good terms?
KSI: No. I don’t like him. It’s annoying, he might be at the afterparty. It’s a little bit awkward, but…
BI: You seem much more calm and normal in real life.
KSI: Yes. Yeah, I’m not, like, shouting in your face. On videos, you always have to be more entertaining. If I was like this [indicates himself as he is, sitting down], people would be asleep.
BI: How do you gear yourself up to be the KSI on video?
KSI: Normally I just… whenever there’s a camera I know how to turn it up. Usually – I’ve been doing this so many years – it’s just natural now.
BI: You’re in your early twenties. In a normal world, you would have gone to uni, and you’d have graduated, but clearly that hasn’t happened. What would the alternative JJ have done?
KSI: I wanted to do computer science. I love my gaming, I wanted to do anything to do with gaming. That’s why, with the whole YouTube aspect, I went into that. When I saw that you could make money playing games I thought, ‘This is a Godsend.’ It’s exactly what I wanted to do. With the whole videos and making entertaining videos and just… everything to do with that was way more exciting than doing computer science and going to uni and going for this whole hassle.
BI: You could have been the next Jeff Bezos.
KSI: [Laughs] No, no. Definitely not, definitely not.
BI: What are your coolest gadgets?
KSI: I love all of that. But coolest gadget… probably just an iPhone. My Nintendo DS, every now and then I like a few oldies like the Game Boy, Game Boy Colour, all that.
BI: I guess you were maybe too young for the N64.
KSI: What! I wasn’t too young! No! Of course I played the N64. I used to always smash it out. Especially in secondary school, all of us had a dorm and all of us would just play Super Smash Bros or GoldenEye. But…obviously there’s lots of better games now.
BI: Are you a Fortnite fan?
KSI: Nah not really. I mean it was cool at first, before everyone knew how to start building, so now it’s just you shoot someone and all of a sudden they build a mansion. And then you’re like, ok, this sucks.
BI: You went to school in Berkhamsted. Are you still in touch with your friends there?
KSI: One of my best friends, Simon, [Simon Minter, known as Miniminter on YouTube] went to the same school. We’ve stayed in touch, and we do the same thing now, which is sick. It’s kinda hard with what I do, I’m always travelling, I’m always doing something out of the ordinary. They’re doing a 9 to 5, so it’s hard to keep in touch. Every Christmas, I always go back to my parents’ to see them, they live around there. So I always just play football with them, and we go out as well. It’s kind of like a reunion, seeing what’s going on. It always seems like I’m doing the crazy stuff.
BI: What has YouTube fame let you do that you couldn’t have otherwise done?
KSI: It has allowed me to do whatever I want, really. Make a career out of anything. If I went down the computer science route, I’d never be here. I feel like with YouTube, it’s a core that lets you bounce off into various things whether it’s movies or music or boxing, anything. It allows you to do anything.
BI: How did you get into YouTube boxing? Why is this a thing?
KSI: It started with Joe Weller, man.
BI: And the concept of ‘beef’ right? [Beef is where YouTubers have a dispute with each other]
KSI: Yeah, I guess that’s where it started. I called him out as a joke on Instagram, saying I’d fight the winner – he was fighting his mate – and then it just blew up from there.
BI: This has all been hugely successful for you. Do you feel the pressure to keep views up by doing really crazy things?
KSI: No. I used to feel like that, but that’s the worst way to go about things. For me, it didn’t make me happy. I wasn’t happy just thinking ‘Oh, I need to do everything for views.’ Because then it made me do things I didn’t actually enjoy. Now I don’t care about views, I never look at [social media statistics site] SocialBlade, I never look at how many views or even the amount of money I’m getting, I hardly look at that. It’s all about making sure I’m doing what I enjoy doing and making sure I’m happy. That’s the most important thing. Happiness is number one.
BI: But you’re still hoping for a decent chunk of change out of this fight, no?
KSI: I’ve got to make sure my whole team eats good as well.
BI: After this series of matches, would you challenge another YouTuber?
KSI: I’d want to go pro. So, there would be no headgear. It would be me fighting someone who is a professional boxer. That would be the biggest test for me. Just a cool thing to do, just to show people I used to be a FIFA gaming YouTuber, but now I can go pro and beat a professional boxer. I used to just be like a skinny dweeby kid, and now I’m doing this.
BI: What are you thinking for the long term?
KSI: I’m not thinking about it too much. I guess I’m trying to enjoy the moment. Like the whole boxing thing, my end goal is to go professional and go from there. Music has always been a big thing, I’d love to go into acting, and see what I can do there. I always like to see what I can do, and push myself to the limit.