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The Contender

Najai "Nitro" Turpin

Najai "Nitro" Turpin
Age: 23
Record: W 12, L 1, Draw 0, KO 8
Philadelphia, PA
Occupation: Boxer/road and restaurant worker
Daughter: Anyae

On Monday February, 14th the Contender family was deeply saddened by the passing of one of our own, Najai Turpin.

Born and raised in a tough neighborhood in Philadelphia, Najai came from humble beginnings. From an early age, the soft spoken Najai saw boxing as an alternative to poverty and hardship. By becoming a successful boxing champion, Najai hoped he could provide a better life for himself, his family and especially his pride and joy, daughter Anyae.

At the young age of 18, Najai suddenly became the man of the house, when his mother passed away. He then had the additional responsibility of taking care of his younger siblings. In order to provide for his family, he not only juggled several jobs at once but with fierce determination, also managed to squeeze in time to train at his neighborhood gym.

The mean streets of his Philly neighborhood had recently dealt Najai another obstacle when he was carjacked at gunpoint and robbed of several hundred dollars in cash. Frustrated and contemplating revenge, he suddenly had a change of heart when the acceptance package from The Contender arrived at his door. Seeing his participation in the show as an opportunity to prove himself, Najai strongly believed it was a sign from God as "He was letting me know he had my back the whole time."

Against what seemed like insurmountable odds, Najai persevered and at the age of 23, had risen to prominence as a promising young fighter with a 13-1-0 record, which included 9 knock outs. Often called the "total package," he was respected by his peers for his dignity, his dedication to his family and his deep passion for the sport of boxing.

"Najai embodied the "Rocky" spirit as a Philly fighter from humble  beginnings. In addition to being a phenomenal fighter in the ring, he was a beautiful person outside the ring. My thoughts are with his loved ones." -Sylvester Stallone.

"My heart goes out to Najai's family in this time of tragedy. Najai was a wonderful kid with a lot of heart. He was a soft-spoken young man who was both a talented boxer and also respected by his peers on the show. Everyone is highly distraught over this loss - he will be missed." -Sugar Ray Leonard.

"All of us at Contender mourn the loss of a great fighter with tremendous heart and courage. His death comes as a shock to all of us. We all came to love Najai and the episode in which he was most depicted will stand as a wonderful testament to who he was - it will not be changed. The Contender is about giving young men a chance to make a better life for themselves and their families. Our hearts go out to Najai's family in this time of tragedy." -Mark Burnett.

The Contender has set up a trust fund for Najai's daughter Anyae. For those who would like to donate, information can be found on