A University of Las Vegas student died from brain injuries after he fought at a fraternity-sponsored “Fight Club” style event, reports said.
Junior Nathan Valencia, 20, collapsed shortly after he duked it out in a boxing match at the “Kappa Sigma Fight Night,” on Nov. 19. He died four days later, his family told KLAS.
According to an Instagram flyer posted weeks before the event by the fraternity, Valencia fought on the “main card” of the night’s nine total bouts. Proceeds were to support Center Ring Boxing in Las Vegas.
Joe Castro, who told the outlet he is a longtime friend of Valencia’s, said he witnessed the boxing match at the Sahara Event Center in Las Vegas, describing it “like an underground fight club.”
Castro said Valencia had no boxing experience, but decided to get in the ring anyway. At some point during the fight, he collapsed and a brawl ensued.
“I saw no medical, no doctors, nothing,” Castro said, backing up the family’s claims that safety precautions were tragically overlooked.
A boxing official told the outlet the referee did not appear professional, allowing the fight to continue as the crowd cheered and Valencia took blow after blow to the head.
“To lose someone so precious like that, it’s hard,” Valencia’s high school friend Xavier De La Rosa told the outlet. “It should have been done correctly. It shouldn’t have been overlooked.”
In a statement on Friday, Valencia’s family said it would be conducting an 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, reports said.
“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.”
The Kappa Sigma Fraternity offered “thoughts and prayers” to the Valencia family and the greater UNLV community, in a statement provided to KLAS.
UNLV president Keith Whitfield emailed the UNLV community on Friday, in which he distanced the school from, calling it “an off-campus event intended to raise money.”
“Coping with the loss of life is always difficult, especially under these circumstances,” Whitfield wrote. “UNLV is committing all available resources to review the incident and determine how off-campus events like these can be as safe as possible.”
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the incident.
Valencia’s family has launched a GoFundMe to help cover medical and funeral expenses.