JAKE PAUL has opened up on the Disney ‘curse’ – and revealed he is using Ben Askren’s taunts as motivation to knock out the retired UFC fighter.
The internet personality-turned professional boxer was a hit with kids on the Disney Channel series Bizaardvark, playing Dirk Mann from 2015 to 2017.
But fast forward four years and Paul is now a 2-0 fighter with 20MILLION subscribers on his popular YouTube channel.
His prior career as a small screen star has not been forgotten by ex-UFC welterweight Askren, who mocked Paul for being a ‘Disney kid’.
But now the 36-year-old, who hung up his gloves in 2019, has been warned his words could come back to haunt him come fight night on April 17.
Paul, 24, told SunSport: “You know, I think he’s doing a good job of promoting the fight and talking smack.
“You know, I’m embracing the fact that I’m a Disney teen actor.
“I’m completely embracing that I actually made a side by side comparison of my stats and his stats as as a fighter.
“You know, he’s a two time NCAA champion Olympic wrestler. He’s defeated MMA legends he has a better record than Conor McGregor.
“And me on the other hand, I put Disney actor YouTuber virgin, the list goes on.
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“But this is why it’s embarrassing for him is because he’s going to get beat up by a kid who was on Disney Channel.
“So you know, he can keep on promoting that I’m a Disney actor, but when I knock him out that just gonna make him look even more stupid.”
Paul turned pro in 2020, stopping social media rival ‘AnEsonGib’ in one round.
He then enhanced his knockout record last November, as he left ex-NBA player Nate Robinson, 36, flattened, turning him into a meme in the process.
Paul started his boxing journey in 2018, having only wrestled in high-school, as he and his brother fought in separate exhibitions in England.
Eldest of the Pauls Logan, 25, drew to KSI, 27, whose brother ‘Deji’ lost to Jake.
Up until then the Pauls were known only for their antics online and brief stint on Disney Channel.
But since leaving TV, both have enjoyed superstardom on YouTube and an ever-growing presence in the boxing business.
In doing so, they avoided the Disney ‘curse’ which has seen other stars suffer mental health breakdowns, eating disorders and suicide attempts.
Paul said: “You know, I think it’s because there’s a lot of pressure and difficulty that comes with childhood fame.
“And growing up with your life under a microscope.
“So when you become famous at an early age, everyone’s gonna want you to fail, they’re gonna want to see you mess up, they’re gonna want to scrutinise you for everything.
“And so I think Disney kids become a product of that. And it’s almost like, people are wanting them to mess up. So they then mess up.
“And they’re working all the time. Like when I was on set, it was a lot of work. And so I think imbalances in life aren’t good.
“And so if you’re working all the time as a kid, all of a sudden, when that stops, maybe you want to party, maybe you want to have fun, and maybe that sort of leads down the wrong path.
“You know, for me, I was lucky to be above that, in many ways. And I was a little bit older when I came into the Disney’s ecosystem.
“But that’s sort of what I see from being in there. And yeah, I think like growing up under a microscope isn’t easy.”
Asked does Disney offer therapy for kid stars, Paul responded: “I think the support system around those is really strong.
“And a lot of kids parents are super involved in the day to day process. They have the teachers and people on set to always help them.
“So I definitely see a strong support system in it and a lot of ways Disney even would ask me to step in and be a big brother to these kids.
“So in many ways i was their big brother, or they looked up to me. So I think there was a good support system and everyone there was just super loving.”
Paul and Disney ‘mutually agreed’ to end their partnership but it was later speculated the American’s behaviour while making viral videos led to the axe.
But he still insists he had a part in the decision to walk away and believes people are quick to suggest he was fired in order to fit his wild child narrative.
Paul explained: “I think it was a long time coming. You know, a lot of the media paint any picture of you that they want.
“The split between Disney and I, in fact, was mutual, it was like sort of this thing that was coming.
“But at the time, everyone was like, ‘Oh, you got fired by Disney, you got fired by Disney’. So I kind of just ran with it.
“Because there wasn’t really like, I wasn’t able to tell the truth about it. Or people just didn’t want to hear the truth.
“They just wanted to be like Jake Paul got fired by Disney.
“But it was sort of this, too, you know, a brand and Disney and Jake Paul, kind of two brands growing apart.
“And so it sort of made sense. And ultimately, both parties are happier after that split.”