Twenty-year-old Nathan Valencia wasn’t supposed to die when he participated in a UNLV fraternity charity boxing match at Las Vegas’ Sahara Events Center in November 2021, but he did five days later because of injuries sustained. As a result of a failure of procedures around the unsanctioned event, including a referee who was drinking, no emergency medical personnel on-site and zero oversight by anyone, a young man beloved by his family and friends lost his life.
Now, UNLV, Las Vegas Metro Police Department, Kappa Sigma fraternity and Sahara Events Center have blood on their hands for their contributions to this tragic event.
Recently the Nevada Athletic Commission met to discuss the findings of a report on the incident from the Nevada Attorney General. The commission—the governing body that has oversight on these types of events—chaired by Stephen Cloobeck and featuring commissioners Jim Murren, Anthony Marnell III, Staci Alonso, and Christopher Ault, had stern words for all those involved.
Here are the FACTZ
From Chairman Stephen Cloobeck
“This body’s about ethics, morals, love, respect, and integrity, honesty, and this didn’t have to happen. I got the call over Thanksgiving holiday. I was away with my family, and my heart literally dropped to the floor. Sad. It’s disgusting. We immediately put an emergency order in place. We immediately took control of the situation that we thought others should have taken control of.”
“I don’t think the general public has any idea what goes into putting on just one real fight, ambulances, doctors, inspections, drug tests, glove safety, glove custody. It’s an amazing machine in Nevada, a gold standard to prevent this type of thing from happening. Why am I saying all this? When we go to try to finish this law, the resistance from those who make money off of amateur boxing and club boxing is going to come out against this movement. I understand their point to an extent. We see many promoters come before us with small professional events and cannot make them work by keeping up with our regs. However, we keep people alive. This can’t happen again.”
“I’m not saying that we banned this type of stuff, but it has to have oversight and regulation because in my opinion, after reading this report and all of the other things, this would’ve not had happened. That young man would’ve been on his way to UMC in an instant, and he would’ve been going to the right hospital, the only hospital in our city that can take care of the brain bleed.”
“This has been happening for so many years in this way that nobody probably thought they were doing anything wrong. It’s just like, ‘Hey, this is amateur boxing. This is what we do.’ The kids go out and they’re having a good time. A stop needs to come to these types of events without the proper medical personnel, without proper custody of gloves and a minimum, some pre-fight drug testing, because we just don’t need a bunch of college kids on all types of illicit drugs, getting in there, knocking each other around with the referee carrying a beer during the fight. That’s just an embarrassment from one end to the other.”
From Commissioner Jim Murren
“I share the intense frustration, and really deep sorrow for this event to have happened. The report does note that, we need further legislative fixes to [which we] have already made improvements. I would like to make sure that in fact does occur and Commissioner Marnell did cite the frustration that these type of events have always caused us problems. Here we are now, dealing with something that could have been resolved many years ago. I can’t imagine how we cannot all want to robustly investigate every iota of information. It should have been done in November. It should have been done in December. It should be done now, to ensure that this could never happen again, and that we are holding people accountable to violations of either the statutes or of law of our state.”
From Commissioner Christopher Ault
“I think everything’s been stated very clearly and the opportunity to move forward and get this thing corrected, I think is in the right line. There are a lot of things that need to be answered. This was not intended to happen. It was something that happened because of nonconformity. The equipment provided by Center Ring Boxing was only rated for training, not for competition. Training gloves are thicker than the regular boxing gloves. I think there is some opportunities there to explore this.”
“It’s an event that happened because the people did not understand exactly what direction to go. It’s something that’s been going on for a long time. Not only just here in Las Vegas, or at UNLV, but throughout the country. I think the Nevada State Athletic Commission can make a statement here, in terms of what these organizations—in particular at the college level, because they call them club sports at times—understand that they have a commissioner report to, and an obligation to understand what the rules and regs are.”
From Commissioner Anthony Marnell
“I think it’s important to note this commission has zero jurisdiction over this event because the rules were not followed. .. I’m not concerned about the tax revenue here. What I’m looking at here is you have a promoter venue license agreement, where there were fees taken at a gate. In that event, and my understanding after the 12 years I’ve been here is that it should have been sanctioned, regulated, and governed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and/or who we delegate to handle amateur boxing. This would be an official amateur event, a UNLV event, and for the record, this issue has been going on in the state of Nevada for decades. There are commissioners that have fought to change this law for decades, to no avail through our legislative process. It’s unfortunate this man had to pass away to get there because we should have been there long ago. There were complaints about this forever from this commission to not allow any type of fighting in the state of Nevada under any circumstances without the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s oversight. This is exactly why. When you read this report, this is a cluster beyond belief from one end to the other on organization, promotion, safety, inspection, drugs, and alcohol in the ring.
“It’s an illegal fight and somebody died. Was there an intent for that to happen? Was there an intent to have it happen illegally? I don’t know. I think it’s so willy-nilly that nobody gave a crap. They didn’t have any idea what they were doing. They were signing lease documents, having fights, got some nurses, ref with a beer, and there’s cocaine, there’s alcohol, all kinds of stuff going on, pre-, post-, during. It’s all in here.”
“What is the go forward plan now? There was no intent for anybody to die here. … If it’s not clear to everybody in this room, our legislators, our Executive Branch and our higher education system are extraordinarily aware of this regulation, and fought against us for decades. They’re equally responsible in this. They should have changed it 10 years ago when Cisco Aguilar and I tried to go down and get all these statutes changed when we rewrote all the recs. But no, we need to have fraternity boxing on campus. We need to allow this stuff to happen. Really? So, there’s a lot of people involved in this that could have done a lot of things about it. Going back a lot of years, if not decades. My real question is now that we have this information, I think that the chairman is taking great actions on changing the emergency reg. It now needs to be pushed into statue. The citizens of the state of Nevada need to keep pushing that so this never can happen again, but what do we do now?
“You would look at this and go to sports-related death. That’s what happened that night. That would be my inclination, too. When I first heard about it, first thing I said to you was, ‘we don’t have any jurisdiction over this. We didn’t even know this was going on. This is a total …’. That’s really the crux of this. This was an underground fight. Maybe not intended to be, but by definition of the statute, that’s what happened. Did anybody ever find or interview the man that was on the opposite end? It said in here that he had a lawyer, nobody interviewed him, nobody ever?
Did anybody ever find the gloves? Did [he] offer where the gloves are? You cannot have a fighter, or 12 fighters wear the same pair of gloves for 12 fights, or eight fights or whatever it was … .”
Where are the gloves is a question we would all like answered … story developing.
This is wild! I hope this gets national attention. Great reporting @Amber Notheard huge fan!
#UNLV needs to pay for this. A kid died on their watch. Nik I came here from your Instagram post and you are right! Where is ESPN?
@joker hashtag #️⃣ in comments #joker are not working.