February 10, 2023
(LOS ANGELES) — Tensions are high, and the anticipation is palpable as AB Ayad, known as Starkilla, of the acclaimed H3 Podcast, prepares to enter the ring despite previously promising to never fight again.
Whether a fan of the sport or merely a curious spectator, boxing remains a favored event, more recently extending arms to content creators, YouTubers, and social media stars alike through celebrity boxing events. These fights remain a spectacle for those interested in watching some of their favorite creators brawl in the ring while also supporting charity.
Creator Clash is a charity boxing event created by Youtuber iDubbbz and his wife Anisa Jomha. The first event featured various content creators and made its debut on May 14th, 2022. Creator Clash 2 will take place on April 15, 2023, in Tampa, Fla., and is set to feature 12 creator match-ups.This year, Ayad will take on Nathan James Barnatt, an actor and comedian best known for his online persona “Dad.” Last year, the 42-year-old won by a technical knockout in his match against 27-year-old Matt Watson in what many fight commentators referred to as a brutal beatdown. At the first Creator Clash, Ayad fought hard but ultimately lost to Hundar, host of the Youtube channel “Muscle Party.” They arguably presented one of the best fights on the card, lasting until the fifth round. Ayad remains optimistic going into his upcoming fight, having already faced a challenging opponent.
Originally from Detroit, Mich., 30-year-old Ayad unequivocally proved his abilities in the ring at the first Creator Clash and steadily grew a following of his own. Aside from his working at one of the most popular podcasts in the world, he regularly streams on Twitch and is actively growing his personal YouTube channel.
Unless experienced first-hand, one can’t fully understand the physical and mental toll leading up to and competing in the ring. The Click spoke with Ayad about the upcoming Creator Clash 2. He said he believes his first experience has prepared him, even more, this time around.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
AB Ayad: My name is AB Ayad, but I go by Starkilla online. My own personal channel is Starkilla, but I’m better known for working as a producer for the H3 Podcast. My job is to prepare the show doc that we use every day. So, basically, come up with the topics and look for what we’re going to be talking about.
I was a fan of the show for a long time, and I always wanted to be involved in YouTube in some way or another. I made a video years ago, defending Ethan (the host of The H3 Podcast) from a video that was going pretty viral at the time. He followed me on Twitter, and we had conversations back and forth throughout the summer, then ultimately he offered me a job.
The Click: You’re fighting in Creator Clash again. How did you make the decision to enter the ring a second time?
You know, honestly, I’m not exactly sure. I wish the first time I either won or did a little bit worse than what I did. Because I feel like I performed just well enough and it made me curious to see what I could do if I had some more time to train. I had to gain a lot of weight last time, and that was rough on me. This time, I’m fighting more at my natural weight.
How do you think fighting Dad Might compare to Hundar?
I’m assuming Dad has better stamina than Hundar but maybe not as strong as Hundar. Hundar was a really buff dude and threw some heavy hits. I think stamina is what it’s gonna come down to. I’m training six days a week with the same trainer I had last time, Wale Omotoso.
I’ve been actively watching your banter with Dad on Twitter. Has this made the anticipation of the fight better?
He’s definitely the instigator, and it’s kind of his whole tactic. I noticed Matt (Dad’s opponent in Creator Clash 1) did the same thing. It’s a mind game, I guess. This is kind of a common tactic in boxing, but it doesn’t really concern me. I’m not worried about it.
I’m definitely less scared this time. The first time, I was terrified because the whole internet told me I was gonna die. And I really didn’t know what I was getting into. I’d often ask myself, “Am I overconfident?” But I did a lot better than I expected. My coach was happy with how I did. And it’s kind of the good thing about having such a tough coach is that he rarely compliments me, but when he does, you know it’s legit because he always tells it like it is.
Can you describe for me what it’s like being in the ring surrounded by so many people?
I was terrified the first time. But it’s strange because I was the calmest I think I’ve ever been walking into that ring. I don’t know if it was all the fans that were there supporting me which meant the world I think that definitely was a big part of it, or it’s just the fact that all this stuff I went through was about to be over. The first time I walked into the ring, I was like this is the final hell I’m gonna go through. I think all the anxiety and stress leading up to the fight the first time really made the actual fight less bad. I had so much anxiety on the drive from work to the gym every day. I didn’t know if I was gonna get beat up that day or humiliated or embarrassed and that was rough.
All your basic training goes out the window at some point. The first time I sparred, I was very nervous. I got in the ring; I started throwing too many punches. And by the second round, I couldn’t even lift my hands up to protect myself. And I was just standing there getting my ass beat. Like you said, just watching it doesn’t seem as bad. But it’s something you have to really experience for yourself.
What was the recovery process for you like last time after the fight?
I must have had a guardian angel because I didn’t have a scratch on me. I think I was one of the only fighters if not the only fighter who did not have a single mark on me whatsoever.
How has Lena (Ayad’s wife) supported you through this?
In every way possible. She’s not as worried as she was the first time. She’s always just supportive and she tries to help in any way she can, whether that be something as simple as going with me to the gym. I don’t think I could have done it without her.
You’ve been actively streaming on Twitch and working on your YouTube channel, do you see yourself ever leaving the H3 podcast if your personal social media takes off?
Honestly, no. Prior to working for the podcast, I was just failing at YouTube for years. But I knew I always wanted to be involved in YouTube. And I never would have imagined that I’d work for my favorite show, so it really is a dream come true. But there’s still a part of me that wonders what content I could make. It’s kind of a scary thing being in this world. And I’m thankful enough to have this amazing family of co-workers and friends around me that helped make it easier. I’m really honored to have the job that I do because besides having such amazing friends, I have such amazing mentors — Ethan and Dan, specifically. I gained so much from both of them. And I’m honored to have them around me and be learning something new every day.Do you see yourself competing again in the future?
I don’t think so. Not in the influencer boxing aspect. It’s rewarding, and I do have so much respect for the sport, but it’s just so time-consuming. The podcast will always be my main focus.