SINGAPORE: It was a tragic turn to a headline celebrity fight at the inaugural Asia Fighting Championship.
World Bodybuilding & Physique Sports Federation (WBPF) Singapore president Pradip Subramanian, 32, has died after he took on YouTube personality Steven Lim in a Muay Thai match at Marina Bay Sands on Saturday evening (Sep 23).
The 41-year-old Lim, who won the fight by a technical knockout, posted photos of himself on Facebook with the championship belt after the bout. "Pradip was rushed to the hospital no joke by ambulance!" he wrote.
He later paid tribute to Subramanian on Facebook, saying: "Rest in Peace, my really truly respected fearless warrior and fighter."
Organisers said in a statement early Sunday that Subramanian died at the Singapore General Hospital at about 9pm, about an hour after he stepped into the ring.
"We are in close contact with the medical staff at the hospital to ascertain the cause of death and request that during this difficult time we should come together and extend our support to Mr Subramanian's family, friends and associates and refrain from any speculation," they said.
"Mr Subramanian's project, the AFC Physique Championships which is scheduled for Sep 24 will be cancelled as a mark of respect," they added.
"I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST A CONCUSSION"
Subramanian appeared to take a few blows to the head and was standing after the match ended. However, he appeared to lose consciousness while in a corner and had to be helped out of the ring.
"In the first round, it seemed like Pradip was winning. But in the second round, Steven punched him a few times,” said a backstage staff member who declined to be named.
“We all didn’t understand how he lost … could be that (Pradip) was already showing some signs of (discomfort), but I’m not really sure. Thereafter, another punch by Steven saw Pradip getting a nosebleed.
“When the referee saw that there was a nosebleed, he called off the fight and consulted with some other officials. He then declared Steven Lim as the winner of the bout.
“Straightaway after the fight, Pradip (was) concussed and was helped to the backstage area. When I was at backstage with Steven Lim, I already saw (Pradip) lying on the stretcher and a few medics were fanning him.
“Initially I thought it was just a concussion … plus there was no sign of a heart attack. He was then sent to hospital via the ambulance. It was much later that I heard the news that he died."
Subramanian had taken the place of Singapore Idol alum, singer Sylvester Sim who withdrew from the match due to insurance issues.
This was his first public Muay Thai match.
“Our beloved son passed away suddenly,” his family said in a Facebook post, adding that the wake would be held at Woodlands Street 81 on Sunday.
President of the Singapore National Olympic Committee Tan Chuan-Jin conveyed his condolences to the family.
"Our thoughts are with the family, even as we try to figure out what happened, and obviously try and make sure that incidents, if preventable, do not happen again," he said at the Changi Airport where he was receiving Singapore’s ASEAN para athletes on Sunday.
The Asia Fighting Championship is organised by Axseed Events and Muse Fitness Singapore which runs a Muay Thai boxing gym. The event featured fighters from around the region, including South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia.
The Singapore Police Force said it was alerted at 10.27pm that a 32 year old man was pronounced dead at the Singapore General Hospital.
Police are investigating the unnatural death.