Fighter on TV's Contender Commits Suicide

02/15/2005 at 08:00 AM EST

Fighter on TV's Contender Commits Suicide
Najai Turpin
Chris Haston/NBC Universal Photo
NBC's upcoming reality boxing show The Contender has been hit with tragedy: Najai "Nitro" Turpin, 23, a middleweight from Philadelphia, committed suicide Monday, The New York Times reports.

NBC executives, speculating that the incident had nothing to do with the show, confirmed to the newspaper that the series will proceed as announced, with a March 7 premiere. No other details were provided.

The Contender, produced by reality mogul Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice) and former Rocky star Sylvester Stallone in conjunction with Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks, features boxers competing for a $1 million purse and follows their private lives. The Times says Turpin, a restaurant worker, and his girlfriend had a 2-year-old daughter.

The entire season, with Turpin, has been filmed, though results of the outcome of the final fight – which will decide who wins the prize – are not known.

Burnett told The Times: "Nothing changes. I'm not even going to make any edits because it's real."

The producer did acknowledge that eventually the subject of Turpin's death must be addressed.

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