Bodybuilding champion Pradip Subramaniam's death after a Muay Thai match has brought into limelight safety concerns in combat sports. The Combat Sport Community members of Singapore have emphasised greatly on the safety of participants in fight events.
Singapore's World Bodybuilding and Physique (WBPF) President Pradip Subramaniam collapsed after his Asia Fighting Championship match against Steven Lim, following which he was rushed to Singapore General Hospital, late at night on Saturday, September 23.
AFC Holding Singapore reported that the hospital's preliminary report said Subramanian "suffered a cardiac arrest respiratory failure episode which led to his passing." The final medical report is expected in one or two months.
Subramanian replaced the original contender, singer Sylvester Sim, at the last moment due to insurance issues. The outcome of the match has raised several questions about the safety of the participants in the event.
Sport organisers' opinion
"For us at ONE Championship, we adopt global medical and safety processes and procedures that are of world standard. For all professional sports - whether it's F1 or NBA, NFL or even the EPL – this should be the standard," ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sidyodtong told Channel News Asia. "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 competition," he added.
Singapore Silat Federation CEO Sheik Alauddin stated that professional fights require complete medical check-ups, including brain scans and hydration tests. The final check-up, performed hours before the match, is very crucial. He added that for full force fighting, one needs at least five years of training.
"I think for a match like this, it would be good to have ample preparations physically and psychologically. Just having a day's notice might have been ill-advised in this aspect," said Damien Lee, deputy manager of Nanyang Polytechnic's Sport and Wellness diploma.
This is not the first time that an athlete lot his or her life during such combat sports. In 2005, female boxer Becky Zerlentes died immediately after being punched in the head by opponent Heather Schmitz during a Golden Gloves fight. She never regained consciousness after collapsing inside the ring.
American boxer Brad Rone died in the ring after Billy Zumburn punched him multiple times at the end of the first round.
Perhaps the most infamous incident happened in 1947 when Jimmy Doyle was fatally wounded by Sugar Ray Robinson. Robinson had a dream the night before the match that he had killed Doyle in the ring. After being advised by a priest and a minister, he decided to go ahead with the fight, which was an exact replay of his nightmare. 22-year-old Jimmy Doyle died soon after the match, struck by a single left hook from Robinson.
Such ring-related accidents keep happening throughout the world, making it more essential to have standard safety rules for the participants. The aftermath of Subramanian's death seems to be a small step in that direction.