VIDDAL RILEY. That’s a name Boxing News readers will recognise from domestic national championships. However, to others he’s the boxing trainer of Youtuber KSI. A Youtuber with almost 19 million subscribers, who in February 2018 beat fellow UK Youtuber Joe Weller in a boxing exhibition, in front of a sold out Copper Box arena with over 25 million people viewing the bout.
The two were introduced through mutual friends, became a team and have since been training for another all Youtuber fight, this time against American Logan Paul, himself owner of a channel with just under 18 million subscribers.
And here Riley’s professional boxing career began, with a story more bizarre than the thought of KSI and Weller selling out the Copper Box arena.
Riley and KSI jetted over to Las Vegas to train at the Mayweather Boxing club in order to provide promotional content for the Youtuber’s fight.
As KSI shared the ring with former WBC super-middleweight world champion Badou Jack, and trained with Floyd Mayweather Snr, Riley watched on before asking to get involved himself.
After initially having his request to spar Jack turned down, Riley would spar, and stop, a sparring partner, catching the eye of those watching the Londoner then shared the ring with Money Team boxer Andrew Tabiti, and it was here his talent was recognised.
After an impressive display in sparring, Riley signed a deal with Jeff Mayweather and Amer Abdallah, a kickboxer who is most notable for managing Badou Jack.
“To be candid, I wasn’t expecting much. I mean, let’s call it what it is, he’s the trainer of a YouTube celebrity,” Abdallah said. “I certainly wasn’t expecting him to put a guy down the first day and then hang with the NABF cruiserweight champion, Andrew Tabiti the second day.
“The kid is explosive, fast and thinks beyond his age. He sets traps, makes calculated moves and punches like a mule. At this stage of his career, he’s well beyond his years.
“Given his age, talent, work ethic and thirst for knowledge, I can see him being a two-division world champion. In this sport, every move is critical and we plan on taking calculated steps in getting him there.”
Jeff Mayweather like Abdallah admitted at first Riley didn’t steal their attention until he stepped in the ring with the 16-0 Tabiti.
“When I first saw Viddal Riley sparring I was very impressed but not overly impressed the first day, because of the opposition he was sparring,” Mayweather said.
“But the following day he asked to spar with undefeated NABF champion Andrew ‘The Beast’ Tabiti whom I consider one of the top contenders at cruiserweight. The sparring was great, give and take on both sides.
“He showed tremendous hand speed and power and I was definitely impressed. I worked his corner and we had an instant connection. I called out certain punches and combinations and he delivered as though we’ve been working together for years.”
Without this bizarre encounter, Riley would never have got the chance to showcase his talent in the Mayweather boxing club, something he wasn’t even scheduled to do in the first place.
“I wasn’t even supposed to go on the trip,” Riley said. “But [KSI] asked me a couple of days before the trip if I would like to come out to Vegas and have the experience of seeing the TMT gym.
“It was a crazy experience and not something I trained specifically for, but if I was to say I wasn’t prepared for it I’d be a liar as I’ve been boxing for years so I’m always ready to take my opportunities within the sport.
“It all definitely happened sooner than I expected but I managed to hold my nerve and take control of it all and it’s come out as a major positive for me.”
Although Riley holds an amateur record of 41-8 (19 KO’s), competing for West Ham ABC winning an English championship five times and GB three times [at junior levels] from 2010-2017 while also being a Youth Olympian in 2014, the 21-year-old admitted turning professional was not his intention.
“It wasn’t something I planned on doing this year, I was planning on doing the ABAs in order to earn my spot on the 2020 Olympic team,” he said. “But I went to Vegas with KSI in March and I managed to show enough to get the opportunity to turn pro.”
Although KSI isn’t a boxer, and you can make your own judgment on his skills, the successful Youtuber has afforded Riley new experiences already.
The two have been involved with press-conferences in the US, training alongside professionals and fight nights in front of thousands, and Riley believes this kind of experience will benefit him as he enters the paid ranks.
“He’s provided me with a lot of experience I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t his trainer and as heavily involved with what he does as I am,” Riley claimed.
“It’s definitely opened up a lot of doors for me and given me experience I wouldn’t have in this period of time, for example going to press-conferences, travelling around, coordinating boxing camps.
“Things like that you don’t think about till later down the line but I’ve had to do it all quite early so it’s going to help me in my own career when I have my own press conferences and stuff like that.
“It’s all put me in good stead, I would say I’m the most publicised amateur in ages and I haven’t even thrown a professional punch yet and I feel like I’m one of the most famous amateurs in the world.
“That’s the power of social media and what being in the right circle can offer you, I have over 100,000 followers on Instagram, I’ve got my own clothing brand and everything and this all stemmed from being involved with KSI and the right people.
“I have nothing but respect for what he’s done for me as being part of this has allowed me to open up an entrepreneurial mindset way before most pros do.”
On September 12 Riley will travel to Vegas and is set to stay for three to four months and prepare for his professional debut through training with Jeff Mayweather, although a date and opponent are yet to be announced.
Despite Riley and Mayweather having a very limited time together, the trainer cited the potential for the Londoner to reach world championship level.
Mayweather said, “The difference with Viddal is he’s an extremely well balanced fighter. He’s a promoter’s dream with a huge following that no promoter could pay for or even create.
“l see a world championship in his not so distant future but of course these are huge compliments that I rarely attach to anyone, but Viddal fits that criteria. I’ve been around boxing practically my entire life and I know talent when I see it.
“Viddal Riley fits that profile and l can’t wait for our journey to the world title to begin. Keep your eyes on us and be a part of our journey, I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed.”
Not many Brit’s begin their boxing career in America, not least with TMT, however, one man who has made his name across the pond is former WBA super-lightweight world title challenger Ashley Theophane, and Riley admitted he sought advice from his fellow London boxer.
“I’ve spoken to Ashley when I was in Toronto for the Badou Jack fight and he didn’t give me much advice but he told me to be switched on and always look into the little details that many other fighters miss.”
Another Riley consulted for advice was five-weight world champion Floyd Mayweather Jnr himself, although it was his father who offered the better pointers.
“I met Junior briefly but it wasn’t anything to document really,” Riley said. “We’ve just been in the same room but I saw him tutoring Badou Jack before his world title fight with Adonis Stevenson.
“I’ve spoken to Floyd Snr much more than Junior, and he’s just said to me that he’s impressed with what I’m doing and told me to hang around with more elite world fighters in order to get where I need to be and I guess that opportunity has opened up now.”