LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The family of UNLV student Nathan Valencia has filed a lawsuit after the 20 year old died after participating in a charity boxing match last November.
The lawsuit names several defendants including the Kappa Sigma fraternity, UNLV, Board of Regents of Nevada's higher education, the Sahara Events Center, where the match took place, and the referee overseeing the match Christopher Eisenhauser.
Originally, the Kappa Sigma fraternity at UNLV hosted a "fight night" on Nov. 19, 2021, that listed Emmanuel Aleman vs. Nathan Valencia as the main event.
However, Valencia collapsed five minutes or so after the fight ended and was taken to Sunrise Hospital. Doctors determined he was internally bleeding and his injuries were too severe. He died four days later.
Nick Lasso, a family attorney, told 13 Action News that medical help wasn’t available at the boxing match and added there was no professional referee.
“Our preliminary investigation reveals mistakes were made and safety precautions overlooked. 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,” Lasso said.
According to the lawsuit, the family believes Valencia suffered intense physical and mental pain, shock and agony prior to his death.
The lawsuit alleges numerous issues led to Valencia’s death where the defendants should have known the minimum safety protocols when holding an amateur boxing event like having inadequate equipment, a ringside physician or medical personnel observing the match or someone on standby or a licensed and qualified referee to officiate such boxing matches.
The fraternity selected Eisenhauser to referee the fight even though he didn't have any training to take on such a role, according to the lawsuit. And that Eisenhauser continuously consumed alcohol the evening of the fight.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission reported it had no jurisdiction over such events but later expanded its oversight of amateur boxing.
The Valencia family attorneys applauded the commission’s move saying in a statement it was a “positive step in the right direction” and called on state lawmakers to create legislation to address the oversight issue.
UNLV placed Kappa Sigma fraternity on interim suspension following the "fight night" event and said it will start looking into new safety protocols going forward.
“Our hearts ache for Mr. Valencia’s family, friends, and loved ones,” said UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield. “We take our responsibility to review this tragic incident and the events leading up to it very seriously, and we are doing so both thoroughly and fairly to ensure something like this never happens again.”
A few days after Valencia's death, Sunrise Hospital staff along with friends and family lined the halls for an honor walk as his body was wheeled into an operating room to have his organs removed for donation.
Attorney Sean Claggett who represents Aleman, Valencia's opponent in the match, told 13 Action News that his client has suffered grief and threats in the aftermath of the boxing match.
Valencia's family is being represented by the Richard Harris Law Firm in the lawsuit and seeking damages in excess of $15,000.