Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: An unsuccessful contestant on The Contender committed suicide after being bumped from the show.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2005]
Origins: The first episode of The Contender aired on
Yet as real as reality television can be, sometimes the true drama takes place far beyond the reach of the cameras. In the dark hours before dawn on
His motive for doing so is not definitively known, although Turpin's trainer-manager told the Philadelphia Daily News the boxer might have felt hamstrung by contractual restrictions that kept him from boxing until after the series finale airs on
"Fighters want to fight," Percy "Buster" Custus told the paper. "He was frustrated because he was, like, training for nothing. He had no motivation."
As one of the conditions for being on the show, each of the sixteen Contender rivals had to agree to eschew fighting professionally until after the final episode of the series aired. Such a restriction protects the show's week-by-week element of uncertainty, in that if a former Contender contestant were seen in the ring before such date, it would be easy to work out he must have been one of the fourteen hopefuls already eliminated over the course of the competition.
Newsday offered another possible reason for Turpin's taking of his own life: "It was widely reported that Turpin had a custody dispute with the mother of his 2-year-old daughter." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette seemingly supports the reading-between-the-lines hypothesis that the
One further hypothesis emerges in rumor, the notion that the 23-year-old fighter committed suicide because he was eliminated before reaching the final in the
"The reason we'd been paying these people every week to train is that a large number will be fighting again," [Mark] Burnett confirmed to the Daily News yesterday. "Actually, what made this tragedy worse is that everybody loved Najai. Even though he was a ferocious fighter, he was a cuddly teddy bear. He would have very, very likely been chosen to fight again."Third, Executive Producer Mark Burnett has discussed with the media potential plans to use some of the 2004 roster of Contender hopefuls again, possibly in an American versus European boxers version of the show.
Therefore, if Turpin had regarded his being bested by one of the other fighters as something he could not live with, would he not also see that either the undercard or the proposed gloved hands across the waters remake would offer plenty of opportunity for salvaging his self concept? Or would he have concluded that in this world redemption is for coupons, not people?
Barbara "advertising circular reasoning" Mikkelson
Last updated: 8 March 2005
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