The evening of the fight, Nathan Valencia was nervous. It was the first time that Valencia, a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas had participated in Fight Night, the annual event hosted by rival fraternity Kappa Sigma. Like other frat functions, Fight Night was for charity. But this particular event had a dangerous reputation, known for landing participants in the ER with broken noses and concussions.
This hadn’t deterred Valencia, a charming and popular junior, from signing up. He’d been assigned to the card’s main event, fighting Emmanuel Aleman, a fellow student and member of Kappa Sigma.
When Valencia and his girlfriend, Lacey Foster, pulled up to the Sahara Events Center — a dank-smelling roller-hockey rink just a mile off the Strip, wedged between a swingers club, a bathhouse, and several abandoned storefronts — something immediately felt off. Valencia and Foster entered to find the boxing ring stuck into one corner, surrounded by a hundred or so folding chairs. The scene had the look and feel of a legitimate boxing event — gloves, mouth guards, ring girls in short-shorts holding up cards to announce the rounds. But it was haphazard, too: a pile of trash in a corner of the venue, the dingy warm-up room cluttered with old hockey gear. “We were like, ‘What the heck is going on?’” Foster says.
There were nine fights that night. In each one, the opponents boxed three rounds of three minutes each, or until they appeared unable to fight back. They wore headgear, mouth guards, and gloves. Most fighters had a fraternity brother or close friend in their corner to provide pep talks and coaching.
Despite this adherence to basic boxing protocol, people in attendance would later describe the event as “chaotic” and “disorganized.” In one of the early matches that night, a fighter’s headgear came loose. When someone in the crowd screamed to stop the fight, the referee — who’d been seen drinking a beer — seemingly ignored it. There was an uneasy tension in the air. By the time Valencia was up, it was nearly 10 p.m., and the crowd, which had been drinking at the venue’s bar, had teetered from tipsy to drunk.
“Nathan Valenciaaaa,” the emcee roared into the mic as the audience cheered. Valencia, stone sober, appeared serious and apprehensive as he made his way across the room. Shirtless, in red headgear and black shorts, he shrugged off an oversize purple fraternity jacket and climbed into the ring.
For a few uncomfortably long moments, Valencia paced alone in the ring as 2Pac’s “Ambitionz Az a Fighta” boomed over the sound system. Then, the emcee called the name of his opponent. As Emmanuel Aleman entered — lean and muscular, in white shorts, with a purposeful, confident stride — he tapped Valencia’s glove with his own. The two shadowboxed in their corners before the…
Read More: The Death of Nathan Valencia – Rolling Stone 2023-06-04 13:00:00