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I-Team: 'We're here to uncover the facts:' Nevada Athletic Commission to investigate UNLV fraternity boxing death |

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I-Team: 'We're here to uncover the facts:' Nevada Athletic Commission to investigate UNLV fraternity boxing death

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) -- How did a fraternity boxing match result in a UNLV student's death?

His family says they will hold the people who are responsible accountable. And today, we learned there will be an investigation by the Nevada Athletic Commission.

The I-Team broke this story five days ago and no leader from UNLV has agreed to an interview … not the president, and no one from the Board of Regents.

Stephen Cloobeck, chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission, says there will be an investigation.

"With regard to the university having knowledge of this and accepting and allowing it, well, go speak with the university and the Board of Regents," Cloobeck said. "They've got a lot of explaining to do in my opinion. They cannot duck, hide, bob and weave on this."

The UNLV student who died, Nathan Valencia, participated for charity. He collapsed after his fight and died four days later from head injuries.

"We're here to uncover the facts," Cloobeck said.

The commission will investigate the fraternity boxing match that took place on Nov. 19. Kappa Sigma fraternity held the event, according to social media posts.

Cloobeck says the commission had no jurisdiction over the event.

The I-Team uncovered why, as of 1985, contests of unarmed combat conducted by or participated in by a school or university were excluded from the commission's oversight.

On Tuesday, Gov. Steve Sisolak addressed the deadly fight.

"We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure that it certainly never happens again," Sisolak said.

"It is a tragedy and I'm sorry for the family. The young man was trying to do something good through his fraternity for a non-profit. I've spoken to the chair of the athletic commission and I've spoken to the chancellor about this. There are numerous investigations underway," Sisolak said.

Here's what the I-Team has uncovered so far.

  • Witnesses reported there was no medical help on standby at the event.
  • Valencia's family said the referee wasn't a professional.
  • Video appears to show the referee drinking alcohol that night, and also looking at the judges' table frequently.
  • Head gear that repeatedly needs to be adjusted.
  • And moments when Hall of Fame boxing ref Richard Steele says Valencia's fight should have been stopped.

"He's showing you he don't wanna be there when he turns away," Steele says in reviewing the fight. "Anytime I see a fighter turn away from the fight, the fight is over."

Hall of Fame boxing referee Richard Steele reviews video of the fight.

Students who were there told the I-Team the event was chaotic.

"Nothing was organized, from the headgear to the referee," says student Ana Saia.

"Everybody was hitting each other in the back of the heads," says another student, David Cruz.

We've received statements from the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Metro police and Valencia's family.

They say they've learned some students who participated in the event in previous years were knocked unconscious and had to be hospitalized.

The full statements appear below:

We greatly welcome the investigation by Chairman Cloobeck and the Nevada Athletic Commission. We will fully cooperate and share any information necessary for their inquiry.

We have confirmed from multiple sources that there were no paramedics or medical personnel of any kind at this event. We have also confirmed that participants in years past were knocked unconscious and so injured they required hospital attention.
The so-called “referee” at this event appears to have had no professional training, no license as required by the Nevada Athletic Commission, and was recorded on video drinking before the fights.

It is unacceptable that the individual in charge of enforcing the rules of combat with the authority to stop a fight, would be impaired. From this, it is clear that UNLV, Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and the Sahara Event Center all looked the other way and failed to ensure proper safety precautions were in place.

We will hold those responsible for Nathan’s death accountable and ensure that this never happens to another son, daughter, or member of this community.

Family of Nathan Valencia, through attorneys Nicholas Lasso and Ryan Zimmer of the Richard Harris Law Firm

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

In regards to the death of Nathan Valencia.

The definition of homicide is an act of a human killing another person. Detectives look at the facts surrounding the specific event that caused the death of the person and determine if there is any criminality. Although Mr. Valencia's death is tragic, the circumstances surrounding his death are not criminal and no charges will be filed.

Office of Public Information, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

Previous Metro statement:

The LVMPD Special Investigation Section has investigated the licensing of the boxing charity event that took place on November 19, 2021, where a participant was critically injured. The participant was hospitalized that night and passed away on November 23, 2021, at Sunrise Hospital. Currently, there is no information that there is any criminality on the part of the venue. The Nevada Athletic Commission is the governing body in the state of Nevada for all unarmed combat events and promoters associated with unarmed combat. Any enforcement action for the promoter or participants should come from their office. You may reach out to them at nsacinfo@boxing.nv.gov for more specific information.

Office of Public Information, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents were saddened to learn of the death of Mr. Valencia and our thoughts are with his family at this challenging time.  We respect and support the thorough review and investigative processes already underway and have no further comment at this time.

Board of Regents Chair Pro Tempore Carol Del Carlo

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