Television: Why Did Nitro Kill Himself?

A contestant's suicide provides a grim prelude to NBC's boxing reality show

The parallel wasn't lost on anyone: the kid was Rocky. Najai (Nitro) Turpin, 23, was one of 16 boxers chosen for The Contender, an NBC reality show featuring Sylvester Stallone as a co-host. Like Sly's character, Turpin had come up against the odds in a rough part of Philadelphia. The show's producers even taped Turpin running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in triumph, just like Rocky. "They always told me, 'You're gonna have to fight your way out of the ghetto,'" Turpin says in a voice-over. "That's what I'm going to try to do."

So he did. Then he went back to...

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