In the wake of the death of a 32 -year-old Indian-origin bodybuilder after a celebrity bout, members of the combat sports community today harped on the need for more focus on safety aspects while organising such events. Pradip Subramanian, president of the World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Federation (WBPF) Singapore, had died after his first-ever celebrity Muay Thai bout on Saturday night. He died of a cardiac arrest, according to a medical report from a hospital.
Following Subramanian's death, questions have been raised whether he was fully prepared to participate in the fight as a late substitute for former Singapore Idol contestant Sylvester Sim.
ONE Championship CEO and Founder Chatri Sidyodtong said that for all sports, safety has to be the number one priority.
He also said that participating in combat sports - even at the level of celebrity bouts - was not something to be taken lightly.
"You need years and years of martial arts training. On top of it - in martial arts - first and foremost is that you need to be able to protect yourself.
"You need to be able to defend yourself before you even think of stepping into the competition," he told Channel NewsAsia.
Professional boxing organiser, Ringstar Promotions highlighted the safety protocols it imposes before their fighters are allowed in a ring.
"Our policies begin with safety as a priority. Fighters are requested to submit a full, up-to-date serology report prior to the fight. Plus, an up-to-date full medical report dated in the last six months is required," said Ringstar Promotions CEO Scott O'Farrell.
He said that two more doctor's checks are done as part of the safety standards - the first one is carried out on the day of the weigh-in and the second is performed hours before the fight.
Meanwhile, the Amateur Muaythai Association of Singapore (Amas) also said that it had not sanctioned the Thai kickboxing event as they do not have the authority.
Amas president Mervyn Tan said that the event (the Asian Fighting Championship) was sanctioned by the World Muay Thai Council, which presides over professional fights worldwide.
CEO of the Singapore Silat Federation, Sheik Alauddin said that in the Pencak Silat, a Southeast Asian ball game, there is a policy of having mandatory medical clearance before allowing competitors to fight.
"In professional fights. Full medical check-ups are needed including brain scans, urine tests, blood tests and even hydration tests before allowing any fighter to fight".
Suggesting that beginners must never be allowed to fight any professional combat sport, Sheik said, "Novice must never be allowed to fight. They have to go through a number of years in amateur fights before being allowed to turn pro...I'd say it takes a minimum five years".
President of Singapore's World Association of Kickboxing Organisation (WAKO) Jason Lim recalled an incident last year where a number of countries, participating in a sanctioned tournament in South Korea, were barred from competing for flouting safety rules.
Lim also said that novices should wear safety gear.
Sports physician Dr Cormac O'Muircheartaigh said that carrying out medical checks before a fight takes place was essential.
Subramanian's family, meanwhile, said that they were unaware about him taking part in the bout.
"We were initially unaware that he was taking part in the fight. He said went down to watch him fight and did not want to discourage him because he was in his gear and ready to fight," Subramanian, 67-year-old father of the bodybuilder was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.
Pradip was the youngest of three siblings and left behind his twin brothers - 43-year-old Saravanan and Shanmugam.
"He was always passionate about bodybuilding and fitness. He was the youngest in the family, and suddenly he has gone," Shanmugam said.
Subramanian's family members also raised questions about him being allowed to fight.
"We want the authorities to investigate, and are seeking legal advice and getting some lawyers. For now, we don't have any plans yet, but maybe tomorrow we will discuss with the other family members and see where we are heading," Subramanian's uncle Roger Rajan was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
(With PTI Inputs)