Nathan Valencia: UNLV student, 20, dies after boxing in fraternity’s charity event

Proceeds for the event were supposed to go to Center Ring Boxing, a boxing club that trains troubled youth in Las Vegas

                            Nathan Valencia: UNLV student, 20, dies after boxing in fraternity’s charity event
Nathan Valencia, 20, was a junior at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and an "active" member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity (GoFundMe)

A university student in Las Vegas succumbed to injuries he sustained at a boxing match that was part of a fraternity's amateur 'fight night'.

Nathan Valencia, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, fought a member of another campus frat in the "main event" of an annual boxing bout on November 19. Proceeds for the event were supposed to go to Center Ring Boxing, a youth boxing club in Las Vegas. Valencia went toe to toe with the other student boxer for the charity fundraiser held at the Sahara Events Center in Las Vegas, but just minutes after stepping out of the ring, he suddenly collapsed and was rushed to hospital. 


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Valencia's heartbroken girlfriend Lacey Foster, who described him as an "active member" of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at UNLV, said she noticed he had been "just trying to get away to catch a breath," during the bout. "Once I walked in there, I just had like a really weird feeling," she told KTNV. Doctors later revealed he was suffering from internal bleeding. "They pretty much said they're gonna try to do their best but they didn't know if he was going to make it out," Foster added.

Valencia eventually succumbed to his injuries and passed away on November 23, just days before his birthday on Saturday, November 27. His organs were reportedly donated to eight different people. The kinesiology student's loved ones had begged him to back out of the match, but he reportedly insisted he was doing it for a good cause.



In a statement to the Daily Beast, Nicholas Lasso, an attorney representing Valencia’s family, said a “preliminary investigation” revealed that “mistakes were made and safety precautions overlooked.” The statement added, “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 attorney claimed there was no immediate medical help available, nor a professional referee for the match. 

According to KTNV, several other fights had been organized in a bid to raise money for Center Ring Boxing, a north valley gym that trains troubled youths. Nathan's fraternity paid tribute to their late pal in an emotional Instagram post. "Our brother Nathan showed us nothing but love and will continue to do so from up above," the post read. "His strength and kindness never went unseen and we were so thankful to have him as a brother."

UNLV President Keith Whitfield called Nathan's death a "tragic incident" and said they were reviewing the incident to determine how future off-campus events can be “as safe as possible.” "We are shocked and heartbroken as we mourn the loss of one of our own," he said in a statement. "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."



A GoFundMe campaign has been established to raise money for Valencia's funeral and related expenses. The page described how Valencia had a smile that “lit up every room he walked into" and noted that he was an active member of his fraternity. “He had so much love for his chapter and valued the genuine connections he was able to make.” More than 300 people gathered at the University of Nevada Las Vegas amphitheater Saturday night to attend a vigil in Valencia's honor on what would have been his 21st birthday.

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