Nathan Valencia collapsed during a fraternity boxing match at the University of Nevada. The 20-year-old student died five days later and his family is demanding answers.
The tragic event happened on Nov. 19 at the Sahara Event Center. The event was being sponsored by the Kappa Sigma Fraternity and Valencia’s family is arguing that there was no medical attention or safety precautions to help their son once he entered the ring.
“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,” said the Valencia family in a statement.
According to witnesses, there was no medical personnel during the fight. Nathan Valencia’s friend, Joe Castro, supported the family’s claims that there were no safety precautions.
He said, “I saw no medical, no doctors, nothing.”
Castro said that after Valencia collapsed, a fight in the crowd broke out and people started doing their own thing. According to the college student, people were fighting with each other as Nathan Valencia lay on the ground.
Video of the boxing match was shown to Richard Steele, a Hall of Fame boxing referee. He said, based on the video, that he didn’t believe that the referee was a professional and that all boxing events should have an ambulance and a doctor on site just in case of emergencies.
The University of Nevada student was taken to Sunrise Hospital, and doctors determined that he was suffering from internal bleeding and brain damage. He died four days later. Saturday, Nov. 27 would have been his 21st birthday. The young man donated eight of his organs.
Many of his family members tried to get Valencia to back out of the boxing match, since he had no experience, but Nathan Valencia wanted to participate because the money was going to a good cause. The “Kappa Sigma Fight Night,” was donating all their money to Center Ring Boxing in Las Vegas.
Based on a flyer for the boxing match, Nathan Valencia was the main event for the night and listed on the “main card.” According to sources, the fight night was an annual event for the fraternity and UNLV community.
The college student’s girlfriend, Lacey Foster, said that she felt uncomfortable when she entered the event. She said, “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.”
Following his death, the UNLV community gathered Saturday for a candlelight vigil to remember their friend. Family, friends, and community members got up and shared their memories about Nathan Valencia. Many called him one of the best people you could know.
“He was the best person that anyone could have asked for. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody,” said Malcolm McGruder, Valencia’s fraternity brother.
The University of Nevada president released a statement to the community following Valencia’s death.
He mentioned that the Kappa Sigma Fight Night was an “off-campus event,” and said, “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. I am sure words cannot describe their feeling of grief and emptiness. They are in our thoughts during this very difficult time. The Rebel community shares their loss.”
Despite the university’s plan to investigate, Nathan Valencia’s family will continue their own investigation. Their lawyer, Nick Lasso, told reporters that they will leave no stone unturned while they determine how the university could allow such a violent event to take place.
A GoFundMe has been set up for Nathan Valencia and all the money raised will go towards his medical and funeral costs. So far, over $50,000 has been donated with a goal of $100,000.