Bodybuilder's death after AFC fight raises questions over safety
Bodybuilder dies of cardiac arrest soon after being knocked out in muay thai match at Marina Bay Sands
What was billed as a headline celebrity match for the inaugural Asia Fighting Championship (AFC) event on Saturday took a tragic turn after a fighter died.
World Bodybuilding & Physique Sports Federation president Pradip Subramanian, 32, died of a cardiac arrest after losing the muay thai match against YouTube personality Steven Lim at Marina Bay Sands.
After the referee stopped the match, comprising two 2-minute rounds - shorter than the standard three 3-minute rounds for professional fighters - Pradip looked "wobbly", Lim, 41, told The New Paper yesterday.
Shortly after, Pradip was taken in an ambulance to the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where he died at 9pm, about an hour after he stepped into the ring, said event organiser AFC Holding Singapore in a statement yesterday.
Lim, who was shocked at the turn of events, said: "I thought it was just a normal (technical) knockout. I didn't think it would result in him being taken away in an ambulance, or even death."
A preliminary medical report by SGH said Pradip had suffered a cardiac arrest respiratory failure episode, which led to his death, said AFC's spokesman.
"The final medical report will be released in 30 to 60 days. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr Pradip Subramanian's family during this difficult time," the spokesman added.
Pradip was cremated at the Mandai Crematorium last evening after a wake at his Woodlands home attended by more than 350 friends, relatives and members of the fight and bodybuilding fraternity.
Lim said he had trained for three months to prepare for the muay thai match - a first for both him and Pradip. It is not known if Pradip, who has a boxing background, had trained.
The veteran bodybuilder was announced as a late replacement last Friday - a day before the match - after Lim's original opponent, former Singapore Idol finalist and singer Sylvester Sim, withdrew, citing "insurance coverage" problems.
Professional fighters usually undergo a gruelling regimen to get themselves fighting fit. For instance, AFC pro fighter Brandon Ng runs for 10 to 15km, and does 200 sit-ups and 100 push-ups daily.
AFC founder and chief executive Sasidharan Unnithan, 38, said all fighters in Saturday's event were required to have a medical check-up and sign an indemnity form.
Insisting there were no safety lapses, he said the event had followed standards and safety protocols set by sanctioning body World Muaythai Council, and Pradip had received immediate medical attention.
Still, the tragedy sparked questions from netizens, many of whom left one-star reviews on AFC's Facebook page, on why the two novice fighters were not required to use protective gear and whether Pradip's late inclusion gave him enough time to prepare.
ONE Championship founder Chatri Sityodton felt the fight should not have happened.
"I think it was irresponsible to have allowed two civilians to compete in a pro fight without safety gear or training," said the chairman and chief executive of ONE, which has held over 600 mixed martial arts matches.
The Amateur Muaythai Association (Singapore) declined to respond to criticisms on safety, citing respect for the grieving family.
Calling Pradip's death a "tragic incident", its president Mervyn Tan told TNP that a statement will be issued in due course.
The police are investigating the unnatural death.