Police: UT student died of medical problem during boxing tournament

Local News

Police say preliminary autopsy results show a participant in the Ace Miller Boxing Tournament died of a medical problem Friday after collapsing during a boxing match. 

Joseph Tanner Wray, 20, was pronounced dead after arriving at UT Medical Center. 

Police say Wray collapsed between the second and third rounds of a boxing match just before 9:30 p.m. Friday and was treated at the scene. 

Previous story: Mom remembers UT student who died after collapsing during boxing tournament

The Knoxville Police Department said Monday there were no signs of trauma or injury that were conducive to his death, matching the observations of witnesses. Final autopsy results will take a few weeks to complete.

“After the second round, the boxer from the red corner, which was Tanner Wray, was walking back to his corner getting ready to sit down on the stool… and just collapsed on his back,” ring announcer Chuck Cavalaris said. 

Cavalaris saw the terrifying moment up close. He said Wray looked strong and was even winning the bout, before things went terribly wrong. 

“We were just stunned because there was no indication during the bout that anything like this was going to happen, so we were all just stunned and very, very concerned,” Cavalaris said. 

Loved ones describe Wray as a role model and a friend to many.

“He was loved by everyone that met him,” Lucas Grinnell said. 

As an aerospace engineering major with sights on someday working for NASA, Grinnell said Wray’s potential was limitless.

“The term that a lot of us are throwing around right now is ‘Superman’ and I can’t think of a better word to describe him,” he said. He was a genius, an athlete, a great guy… just my best friend.”

Wray’s death was so sudden, loved ones did not have a chance to say goodbye, but friends said his legacy will always live on both at the University of Tennessee and in their hearts.  

“I was planning on giving him a hug after he won,” Grinnell said, fighting back tears, “and just give him a hug and tell him I love him and that he’s a champion and that I respect him for everything that he’s done and that I don’t want him to go away and I’m going to miss him.”

Tanner’s match was the ninth bout of the night. There were two more to go.

Organizers of the 38th Annual Ace Miller Memorial Boxing Tournament decided to cancel the rest of the weekend event, out of respect to Tanner and his family.

Visitation for Tanner is scheduled for Thursday from 3 to 8 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in his hometown of Lawrenceburg. Funeral services will be held on Friday at 2 p.m.

If you would like to help the family with funeral expenses,  there is a GoFundMe page set up for his loved ones.

The investigation into Wray’s death is ongoing. 

The Ace Miller Memorial Boxing Tournament is an annual philanthropic boxing tournament hosted every spring where members of the University of Tennessee’s Greek community compete, according to the Boxing Weekend website

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