It was the second time the YouTubers faced off.
The world of social media fame is a very strange place, where people have to go to ever more extreme lengths to get people to keep clicking on their videos. Two of the biggest names on YouTube realized that they needed to do something big to draw in new fans and keep old fans engaged so they decided to punch each other. As boxers.
KSI and Logan Paul faced off in the boxing ring for the second time this past weekend and KSI walked out of the ring the champ. The prior match between the British gaming video star and the American Paul in 2018 ended in a draw. In addition, he beat another British YouTube star, Joe Weller, in 2018.
Who is KSI and why was he boxing Logan Paul? Read on for all the details.
1. Who is KSI?
KSI's given name is Olajide Olayinka Williams "JJ" Olatunji but he uses KSI, which stands for Knowledge, Strength, Integrity, as his online handle. The son of Nigerian immigrants, he grew up in England, going to posh private schools. He started his first YouTube channel when he was a young teen and posted videos of himself playing FIFA soccer video games. The videos gained enough popularity that he started bringing in steady monthly income. He was in what the British call sixth form — two years of school dedicated to college prep work — when he started considering making YouTube his full-time career. He consulted a teacher about what his next move should be. "I asked the teacher, ‘should I leave?’ He asked, ‘how much are you making from YouTube?’ and I said around £1,500 a month," he said in a 2014 interview. "He told me he was getting less than that."
After leaving school, he focused on gaming videos but he managed to make even that controversial. He would drop jokes about his "rape face" in videos, causing offense with some viewers. Then at a Eurogamer event, he was accused of inappropriate remarks to staff and attendees and ended up banned from future events. Microsoft dropped their sponsorship of him. He eventually apologized.
2. KSI and The Sidemen
Starting in 2013, he branched out from gaming content and started working with a group of other YouTubers, his Wikipedia entry says. They called themselves the Sideman and started producing comedy rap videos and doing charity soccer matches as well as sketch comedy videos and gaming commentary. The eight men are said to be earning millions of dollars per year but even that came with drama. In 2017, KSI quit the group and released a bunch of diss tracks about other members. Later, when fans questioned if the conflict was genuine or a ploy for attention, he said in a video the drama "wasn't entirely real but wasn't entirely fake either."
3. Who is Logan Paul?
Logan Paul started his online career as a Vine star, the Washington Post reports. He made short humorous videos that generated millions of likes but he had to change platforms when Vine shut down. He moved to YouTube where he posted daily vlogs for several years. His brother Jake Paul was also building a YouTube following and the two posed as rivals, much as KSI positioned himself as a rival to his sometimes partners. The Paul brothers built their following writing diss tracks and commenting about one another in their videos. Fans ate it up and they were both mega-stars on the platform, with millions of followers apiece.
Logan Paul's career came crashing down around him when he posted a video of a dead body. He and his friends were filming an excursion into a so-called suicide forest in Japan when they happened upon a recently deceased person. They called the authorities but they kept the cameras running the whole time. Then Paul made the indefensible decision to post the video. The outcry from people online was immediate. YouTube took away his access to premium ads and his reputation never fully recovered.
Paul and KSI after the fight.
4. Celebrity YouTube Boxing
In 2017, KSI got into an online beef with another YouTuber, fellow Brit Joe Weller. Weller claimed that all the friction between the Sidemen was just fodder for clicks and KSI took offense. Whether that fight was real or just more fodder for clicks is an open question. After trading insults online for a while, the two entertainers announced that they would face off in a boxing match. They scheduled the bout for early 2018 at a venue in London. KSI won the match with a technical knockout in the third round. More importantly, on YouTube, the fight drew 1.6 million live viewers and 21 million views within a day.
5. KSI versus Logan Paul
Having established that there was an audience for YouTubers turning their grudges into combat sports, KSI decided to face off against Logan Paul next. Paul was still trying to rehabilitate his career and the boxing match made sense from a publicity point of view. To sweeten the deal, the two YouTubers arranged for their younger brothers to also box as part of the entertainment package that night. The whole event was a success, earning over $2 million in ticket fees plus untold sums from merch. There were 2.25 million viewers live, including over 1.05 million watching pay-per-view and 1.2 million watching illegal streams on Twitch. The video now has over 17 million views.
The fight ended in a majority draw, with two judges scoring the fight even at 57–57 and a third judge scoring 58–57 in favor of KSI.
They fought the first time last year.
6. KSI versus Logan Paul Round 2
After the success of the first bout, the two men decided to do it again but make it a pro match instead of amateur to make it all and even bigger deal. Paul, never one to miss an opportunity for self-promotion, even made a short documentary about his training for the event. The two traded more insults online and drove as much hype before the bout as they could. When they finally reached the ring at the Staples Center, KSI was declared the winner after six rounds but Paul contended that a questionable point deduction was the reason he lost.
The viewership numbers haven't been reported yet. It's safe to assume they were pretty big but that doesn't mean the men will stage a third fight. Paul expressed regret about having to be mean to a colleague to draw viewers to the fight. “It’s all for show, it’s all to sell it,” he explained according to the Washington Post.
KSI says he's on to other things. He hasn't announced what that will be yet, but it will probably be attention-grabbing, whatever it is.
Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.