X Factor star Chico 17 years after show from losing his life savings to huge career change

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Britain’s Got Talent came back for its 15th season last week as the panel of judges, spearheaded by the show’s creator Simon Cowell, began the difficult task of deciding who makes it to the semi-finals. Of course Simon has been filtering through long lines of wannabe reality TV stars, having once been a producer for the show Pop Idol. He was also the creator of X Factor, which ran from 2004 until its last season in 2018.

Thousands upon thousands of talented (and more often than not talentless) people have stood before Simon and tried to impress him in auditions, with some proving to be more memorable than others. One person who remains etched in our memories is a certain Yousseph Slimani, who came fifth in the 2005 installment of X Factor.

Better known by his stage name ‘Chico’, the singer later went on to top the UK charts with his one-hit wonder “It’s Chico Time” in 2006. 16 years on, however, the star now lives a quiet life at home in Hertfordshire with his two kids Lalla-Khiara, 15, and Zacharia, 11.

READ MORE: Simon Cowell didn’t recognise his own face after ‘horror’ Botox



Chico became a one-hit wonder in 2006 after appearing on the X Factor

But very few people know about Chico’s back story, and struggles he’s faced since his five minutes of fame all those years ago. First of all, it took Chico a total of nine attempts to get Simon to like him, although Simon might narrate things a little differently.

Speaking to The Sun in 2013, Chico said that Simon once told him behind the scenes that he loved him from the moment he first walked through his door, but the reality is Chico had already walked through Simon’s door several times before he could get noticed.

Chico said: “I was sent home time after time from the auditions. When I tried out for the final time, Simon knew fine I was coming into the room, but pretended he didn’t. He said, ‘Not you again.’

“I don’t know what possessed me to sing Kiss by Prince. I started in too high an octave and by the end I was shrieking. Simon walked off. Or rather he pretended to storm off. That was just for show. I knew I was in.”

Chico did well to make the most of his time in the limelight. He said he once got paid £250,000 from Butlins to play 100 gigs. He explained that he was also planning to release a ‘serious record’, but the record company made him release a C.H.I.C.O, based on the 80s classic D.I.S.C.O. “That killed me,” he said.

He continued: “So I spent quarter of a million of my own money on my third single Curvy Cola Bottle Body Baby — it was all about size zero in the fashion industry. It didn’t get any air play and flopped. No one wanted to take Chico seriously.”



Chico was in tears when he explained his near-death experience on Loose Women

Chico ended up losing all his life savings. He explained: “I had just £3.70 left in my pocket — with a family, a mortgage and all my credit cards maxed out. I went out for milk and bread, and when I walked past a beggar I just decided to give him it all.

“My wife went crazy when I came back without anything. She was shouting, ‘I’m sick of your PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) — it doesn’t pay the bills and we owe £2,000 on the mortgage.’ So I went to my room — to hide away really — and pray and rub my worry beads. I’d given away my last coins. I’d done my best and believed God would do the rest.”

It was however at that moment that Chico, who describes himself as a “Sufi” and a “spiritual person,” had a change of luck. He said: “No word of a lie, ten minutes later I got a phone call from Dancing On Ice to be a reserve. I asked what the fee would be and it matched my debt — from the mortgage to all the credit cards — to the penny.”

In 2018, Chico had another scare when he was rushed to hospital after suffering a stroke. Chico broke down as he recalled the experience in an episode of Loose Women after he was given the all-clear months later.

He said: “I got in the car and I was on the A3 on the phone to my wife. I was literally losing touch with reality. I said ‘hun I think I’m having a spiritual experience I will talk to you soon’, so I pulled over. I thought this was an awakening, an enlightenment, but it was a near-death experience.”

He added: “I didn’t know it was a stroke. I am all about fitness and I thought it was a virus. I went to the doctors on the Tuesday and he looked at the results of my MRI scan. There was a 50p sized clot on the right-hand side of my brain. As soon as the doctor came back he said ‘This is a full-on stroke’.”

Since making a recovery, Chico has started his own fitness programme called Block Fit. He told Wales Online the programme was inspired by his two heroes, Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee. He explained: “It’s a combination of combat, dance, and HIIT and there’s a big emphasis on wellness.”



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