SINGAPORE - Hundreds of friends and relatives turned up on Sunday (Sept 24) for the wake of veteran bodybuilder Pradip Subramanian who died after a celebrity muay thai match against YouTube personality Steven Lim.
Mr Pradip, 32, was rushed to Singapore General Hospital after the Asia Fighting Championship match at Marina Bay Sands on Saturday night. He had looked shaken after the match and had to be helped out of the ring.
He died of cardiac arrest respiratory failure, according to a preliminary medical report.
The youngest of three siblings, Mr Pradip left behind his twin brothers Saravanan and Shanmugam, 43.
Mr Shanmugam, the younger twin, said: "This was definitely not the age for him to go. He's helped so many people, he's always passionate about bodybuilding and fitness. He's the youngest in the family, and suddenly he's gone."
His father, Mr Subramanian, 67, said they were initially unaware he was taking part in the fight. He went down to watch him fight and did not want to discourage him because he was in his gear and ready to fight.
Mr Pradip's friends and relatives gathered at his home at Block 807, Woodlands Street 81, as his white coffin arrived at about 3.45pm on Sunday.
Mr Pradip's cousin, Mr Roger Rajan, 45, who owns a debt recovery company, said: "He's a very jovial guy, always call me saying, 'I miss you', 'I love you'... and he would ask me when we are going to meet... I'm very sad and we all missed him a lot. He's one of my best nephews."
He said he was shocked to learn that Mr Pradip participated in the match.
"We all are confused. He told me that he was unwell three to four days back and said 'I don't want to participate in the match, I want to participate in weight lifting'.
"He's not supposed to be. He's not a qualified fighter."
He added that he "will be making a report" and "I want the AFC to give a good reason why he was participating in this match".
"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."
Another uncle Venugopal Vengasalam, 69, said: "We cannot take it. When he sees me, he would always call me over and give me a hug... but now, that's gone," said the crane operator.
Mr Sasidharan Unnithan, 38, founder of the Asia Fighting Championship, said there were no safety lapses in the handling of the incident.
"It (attending to him) was immediate because the moment we stopped the fight, I put the medal on him and he collapsed into my arms, and medical attention was immediately given. There were no lapses in that area. The ambulance was there to take him straight to hospital."
He said that all the judges and referees were qualified, and Mr Pradip had done his health check prior to the fight.
"There was an indemnity form and he cleared that. He was feeling fine. Those were the risks we took. It was a celebrity match, so we shortened the rounds and those precautions were taken," he said.
Mr Sasidharan said Mr Pradip did have some fighting experience and was not a complete newbie. "As far as I know, he isn't completely new. I wouldn't say he has little experience, because he had a boxing background.
"I urge everyone to understand that as much as everyone is grieving, I'm also grieving as well. He was close to me."
Mr Govinthan, 39, who used to work with Mr Pradip at California Fitness, was also at the wake. Mr Pradip was his manager and they had remained very close friends.
"As a person, there's no one like him. No matter good or bad times, he's always there for you."
He described Mr Pradip as a "good, kind-hearted soul", and that he is still coming to terms with what happened. "Everyone is still in a state of shock."
"But this is what he wanted to do, he's always wanted to fight and the fight has become his last fight and it's very sad. Hopefully he will rest in peace."
The cortege left Woodlands at 6.45pm and arrived at the Mandai Crematorium at about 7.30pm. The cremation ceremony took place at around 8.30pm.
World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Federation's vice-president Andrew Johnson, 47, who was at the wake, said: "He's known for his big heart. He would go out of his way to help athletes, he had never stopped giving to this sport. He was full of life."
Correction note: The story has been edited to reflect the correct occupation of Mr Roger Rajan and that he is Mr Pradip's cousin, not uncle. We are sorry for the error.