A student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), died last week due to brain damage after an amateur “fight night” charity boxing event.
Nathan Valencia, 20, junior at UNLV had participated in Kappa Sigma Fraternity’s “Fight Night,” an off-campus event intended to raise money, said a statement by the UNLV president Keith Whitfield.
About five minutes after the fight, Valencia collapsed and was taken to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and died due to brain damage on 23 November, his family said in a statement.
Valencia was a kinesiology student and an active member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Reports said he participated in the event, even though he had no prior boxing experience, to raise money for charity.
A flyer for the “fight night” shared on Instagram billed “Emmanuel Aleman vs Nathan Valencia” as the “main event”.
“Come out and support your favourite fighters or just have a good time watching the smack downs of the year,” it said.
However, onlookers said that the event seemed like an “underground fight club,” reported 8 NewsNow.
“I was like this, this thing, it’s like an underground fight club,” said Joe Castro, a friend of Valencia’s to 8 NewsNow.
“I saw no medical, no doctors, nothing.”
Castro added that when Valencia collapsed five minutes after the fight, he did not receive immediate help.
“…Members there about doing their own thing while Nathan was just in the ring like laying there,” said Castro. “It was ridiculous.”
Speaking to KTNV Lacey Foster, Valencia’s girlfriend said: “Once I walked in there, I just had like a really weird feeling.”
“I remember in one of the fights, someone’s head gear fell off and then during Nathan’s fight, you could see that he was just trying to get away to catch a breath,” she said.
Professional boxing referee Richard Steele who reviewed the footage from the event, said to 8 NewsNow that the referee at the match did not appear to be a professional.
“Anytime I see a fighter turn away from the fight, the fight is over,” said Mr Steele.
He added that a boxing match like that should have had a doctor and an ambulance in place.
In a statement, Valencia’s family said: “Our preliminary investigation reveals mistakes were made and safety precautions overlooked. We will be completing a full investigation to determine how UNLV and the Kappa Sigma Fraternity could allow and promote an event like this to take place. College students should not be placed in a situation where they are pitted against each other for combat.”
“We will leave no stone unturned to determine how a 20-year-old ended up in a school-sanctioned amateur fight that cost him his life,” the statement added.
While the family said that the event was held annually and was well known to both the university authorities as well as the fraternity, UNLV said that they are looking into how such off campus events can be held safely.
“UNLV is committing all available resources to review the incident and determine how off-campus events like these can be as safe as possible. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends, and loved ones,” said Mr Whitfield.
Candlelight vigils have been held by students for Valencia who was slated to turn 21 over the weekend.
A GoFundMe page has been created to raise money for funeral and medical expenses incurred by the Valencia family.
This article was amended on 2 December 2021. It previously stated that Mr Valencia was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, but he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.
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