I-Team: UNLV student dies after fraternity boxing match, family seeks answers

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The death of a UNLV student shortly after a fraternity boxing match last week has loved ones raising questions about the event.

Nathan Valencia’s family told the I-Team that the UNLV junior and Bishop Gorman graduate was a healthy 20-year-old man who participated in the charity boxing event on Friday, Nov. 19.

He collapsed after the fight and was pronounced dead on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

(Courtesy: Valencia family)

Now questions are being raised about whether precautions were taken to protect boxing match participants such as Valencia.

This Saturday would have been Valencia’s 21st birthday. Instead, family and friends, like Joe Castro, are mourning his loss.

“Anyone that he’s ever met, they will deeply miss him,” Castro told 8 News Now.

Castro said that he was at the event to support Valencia who wasn’t an experienced boxer.

“You know it’s just. It’s tough. It’s really tough ’cause he just, he was a great guy,” Castro added.

Valencia’s mother told the I-Team she wanted him to back out of the fight, but he insisted on participating since it was for charity.

According to social media posts, the organizer is the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and proceeds from the event were donated to Center Ring Boxing.

Valencia was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and studied Kinesiology at UNLV. The weigh-in was held on the UNLV campus two days before the event, which was held off-campus.

Castro told the I-Team when Valencia’s fight was over it was clear he was in need of help.

“At first they wanted to get him up to get him to the middle to announce to raise the winner’s hand, you know. He couldn’t even walk to the middle of the ring. He was wobbling, like dazed, like he couldn’t even walk straight. And it was just… as I knew, that’s when I knew yeah something’s wrong right there. We gotta get a medic as soon as possible,” said Castro.

According to the Valencia family’s attorney, Nick Lasso, medical help wasn’t there. Lasso also claims there was no professional referee.

Valencia family attorney’s first statement

The family is deeply saddened over the loss of their loved one. They have asked for privacy during this painful time to grieve. This was an entirely avoidable and unnecessary death that will be fully investigated.

While it is early to know all details, it appears there were multiple safety measure failures by both UNLV and Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

Nick Lasso, Esq., Valencia family attorney

“They had headgear and all that, but at the end of the day, when you’re getting hit in the head, you’re getting hit in the head,” added Castro.

According to Valencia’s parents, he was taken to Sunrise Hospital after he collapsed. They said a neurosurgeon told them their son had internal bleeding and was not likely to survive.

Valencia’s parents told the I-Team that their son planned on going to Las Vegas nightclubs this weekend to celebrate his 21st birthday.

Instead, his family plans on honoring him with a candlelight vigil.

Nathan Valencia

Valencia’s parents told the I-Team that their son was a registered organ donor, and they have learned his organs will help at least eight people.

A second statement was released from the family’s attorneys on Friday:

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 and Ryan Zimmer of the Richard Harris Law Firm

The I-Team reached out to UNLV for comment on the incident. The following statement from the university is listed below.

UNLV statement

The university is aware of the fraternity event and related incident and is actively looking into it. Our thoughts are with Mr. Valencia’s family at this time.

UNLV Media Relations

On Friday afternoon, UNLV President Keith Whitfield shared the message below with the university community.

Dear Campus,

It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness I share that a member of the UNLV family is no longer with us. Nathan Tyler Valencia has passed away following a tragic incident a week ago. Nathan was a junior at UNLV and had participated in Kappa Sigma Fraternity’s “Fight Night,” an off-campus event intended to raise money. Soon after his fight, Nathan collapsed and was taken to a hospital. We are shocked and heartbroken as we mourn the loss of one of our own. Coping with the loss of life is always difficult, especially under these circumstances. 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.

Warmest regards,

Keith Whitfield, UNLV President

The family’s attorney and the Valencia family told the I-Team that Metro Police are investigating the incident.

The I-Team also reached out to the Kappa Sigma Fraternity headquarters. The fraternity’s statement is listed below.

Kappa Sigma Fraternity 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

There is a GoFundMe account set up to help the family with medical and funeral expenses.

More information on the vigil to honor Nathan Valencia’s memory is listed below.

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