Steven Lim, the man who fought bodybuilder Pradip Subramanian in the ill-fated muay thai celebrity match that led to the latter's death last Saturday, revealed that his original opponent, ex-Singapore Idol runner-up Sylvester Sim, had urged him to pull out of the fight due to an alleged lack of insurance coverage.
Pradip, who was the president of the World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Federation (Singapore), was a last-minute replacement for Sim, who withdrew citing "insurance issues". The 32-year-old's participation was confirmed barely a day before the Asia Fighting Championship bout at Marina Bay Sands.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Lim wrote: "Sly is v afraid to fight in a ring with me without any insurance becos of his family. He wants me to back out with him... Sly wanted to quit but I can't be a quitter or I will truely let my fans down!" (sic)
Pradip had lost the two-round bout by a technical knockout, and looked shaken. He was helped out of the ring and rushed to hospital, where he died of cardiac arrest respiratory failure, according to a preliminary medical report.
Lim, a YouTube personality, also asserted on Facebook that the celebrity fight was "totally real... same as the rest of the fighters bouts", posting photos of his face and lip wounds.
The 41-year-old added that he has been having a headache that has not gone away, after "I suffered multiple punches on my head especially from the first round".
The lack of headgear by both combatants was among the criticisms levelled at the fight organisers, with One Championship chairman and chief executive Chatri Sityodtong calling it "a serious breach (of safety protocols)".
Lim, however, dismissed the notion he and Pradip were fight novices. He wrote: "Some so called martial experts claimed we dunno how to block. This must be a joke. If I dunno the basics of dodging n pary a punch, u think I dare to go up the ring n fight? U dun need to block much if u can dodge punches for goodness sake." (sic)
Nevertheless, there was little sympathy for Lim's injuries, and he has become a target for online criticism, with some social media outlets even carrying headlines imputing that Lim "killed" his opponent.
Sentiment among Internet users appears to have improved, with most who commented on Lim's post of the opinion that he was not to be blamed for Pradip's death.
One user named Angie Hendricks said: "I'm not gonna side Steven Lim. But, I think this have to be fair to him. He didn't initiate fight with pradip, he didn't ask pradip to fight with him aft sly back out. The one who asked pradip to fight... was the Organizer." (sic)
Both Sim and Pradip's family could not be reached for comment. Lim also declined further comment.