LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The I-Team is revealing new video showing the moments before UNLV student Nathan Valencia participated in a fraternity boxing match for charity on November 19.
As the I-Team first reported, the 20-year-old collapsed shortly after his fight and died four days later. The Clark County Coroner’s office ruled Valencia’s death as a homicide due to blunt force trauma to the head.
The event was held by the Kappa Sigma fraternity, according to social media posts. Valencia was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
UNLV journalism student David Cruz attended the event and recorded video of several fights before Valencia’s. “It was just fighting. Like there was no like boxing involved in it. Everybody was hitting each other in the back of the heads,” Cruz told the I-Team.
Valencia’s parents told the I-Team that they believe the referee was not a professional official.
In Cruz’s video, the referee is seen drinking what appears to be alcohol throughout the night.
“He didn’t look like a ref. He was just like somebody they pulled off from the side to like stand there and be like alright, stop getting near each other,” Cruz said.
The video the I-Team has obtained also shows the referee looking at the judges’ table frequently.
“The ref wasn’t really participating. He was more, also just a viewer, just like enthralled in the chaos of the event, I guess,” Cruz told the I-Team.
Valencia’s fight was the main and final event of the night.
Ana Saia was also there earlier in the night. She is in a sorority that participated and told the I-Team that warning signs were present.
“I remember my sister who was fighting, we were running around trying to find her a pair of gloves,” she said.
Video shows fighters’ headgear needing to be adjusted repeatedly.
“Their helmets kept falling off and people kept swinging at their heads and a lot of miscommunication in that aspect,” Saia added.
Valencia’s family and their attorney told the I-Team that they believe there was no professional medical help on standby either. Other witnesses also told the I-Team that they did not see paramedics present before they were called to help Valencia after he collapsed.
“I think there is somebody to blame here, and I think it’s the fraternity for organizing a poor event and not ensuring the safety of their fighters,” Cruz said.
The I-Team reached out to the Kappa Sigma Fraternity which sent a statement offering condolences to Valencia’s family and the UNLV community.
A UNLV spokesman told the I-Team that the university is looking into the incident.
While the weigh-in for the boxers was held on campus, the actual boxing event was held off-campus at the Sahara Event Center.
Metro police said they investigated licensing and it appears that the business is not at fault.
The I-Team has tried to identify the referee and as of Monday, the I-Team had not been able to track him down for comment.
In a statement, Valencia’s parents said in part the, “event has been held annually and was well known to both UNLV and the National Kappa Sigma Fraternity.”
“We’re young and we think we are invincible at the time, so a lot of those safety precautions kind of get thrown out the window and they shouldn’t, especially on a sporting event like this which is so dangerous,” Saia told the I-Team.
The I-Team’s Vanessa Murphy: “Do you think this event should be held ever again?”
Ana Saia: “I don’t. I don’t even, I didn’t even want to go. I didn’t understand why it was being held.”
According to the Nevada Athletic Commission’s website, a referee is a position that requires licensing.
There is an application and there are requirements and responsibilities.
The I-Team reached out to the commission about the fraternity boxing match and as of Monday evening, had not received a response.
The I-Team has also learned the Nevada Athletic Commission is being represented by the Nevada Attorney General’s office.
The Valencia family’s full statement sent through their attorneys is provided below.
The Valencia family is heartbroken over the loss of Nathan. 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. “Kappa Sigma Fight Night” is an event that has been held annually and was well known to both UNLV and the national Kappa Sigma Fraternity. 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 family has asked for privacy during this time to grieve.NICK LASSO & RYAN ZIMMER OF THE RICHARD HARRIS LAW FIRM (VALENCIA FAMILY ATTORNEYS)
The Kappa Sigma Fraternity released the following statement.
Kappa Sigma Fraternity is greatly saddened by the loss of Nathan Valencia at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers are with the Valencia family and the entire UNLV community.KAPPA SIGMA FRATERNITY
For more information on the Valencia family’s gofundme page click HERE.