“You Don’t Play Boxing” – Frat House Boxing Homicide Leads to Questions

News of a tragic amateur boxing death is making headlines this week.

Nathan Valencia, UNLV student, succumbed to injuries and passed away after participating in a frat house run “fight night”.

NBC News reports that “the Clark County coroner confirmed Tuesday that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and classified the death as a homicide” but no criminal charges are being pursued. However, potential civil consequences are still at play.

The Hill also reported on the story where they note “two attorneys representing the Valencia family said in a statement Tuesday that there were no medical personnel at the event and students have had to go to the hospital in the past because of the fight night.  The referee of the fight was also not certified and was caught on video drinking before the matches, the attorneys said.

The Hill further reports that “The Nevada Athletic Commission started an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding Valencia’s death”.

Nevada, like a lot of jurisdictions, has a regulatory exemption for University held combative sports. This is so collegiate and intercollegiate competitions can occur in a largely self governed manner. Specifically NRS 467.170 reads as follows:

It is unclear whether this exemption applies to this frat house run event which reportedly took place off campus.

Whether or not such an exemption exists a civil suit, if pursued, would look into the standard of care. In determining the standards expected for an amateur full contact boxing event both amateur and professional regulations can be of guiding value. Proper medical oversight is a central feature of regulated combative sports. Allegations that no medical personnel were present and potential officiant impairment, if proven true, would not meet any reasonable standard of care.

In the current era of YouTube and celebrate boxing it is vital for people to keep in mind that you don’t ‘play’ combat sports and health and safety precautions must always play a paramount role when events take place.


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