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AFC 'reckless and irresponsible' to hold fight, deserves to be dealt with harshly, says ONE Championship founder

SINGAPORE – ONE Championship chief executive Chatri Sityodtong has criticised the organiser of the recent muay thai match that ended in a competitor’s death, saying he found it “reckless and irresponsible” to hold a bout for two amateurs without proper preparation or regard for safety.

ONE Championship chief executive Chatri Sityodtong has criticised the organiser of the recent muay thai match that ended in Pradip Subramanian's death, saying he found it “reckless and irresponsible” to hold a bout for two amateurs without proper preparation or regard for safety. Photo: Asia Fighting Championship/Facebook

ONE Championship chief executive Chatri Sityodtong has criticised the organiser of the recent muay thai match that ended in Pradip Subramanian's death, saying he found it “reckless and irresponsible” to hold a bout for two amateurs without proper preparation or regard for safety. Photo: Asia Fighting Championship/Facebook

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SINGAPORE – ONE Championship chief executive Chatri Sityodtong has criticised the organiser of the recent muay thai match that ended in a competitor’s death, saying he found it “reckless and irresponsible” to hold a bout for two amateurs without proper preparation or regard for safety.

He added that he hoped the authorities would deal with the chief executive officer of Asia Fighting Championship (AFC), which organised the Saturday bout, “harshly and severely” as a deterrence to others thinking of holding similar events for the sake of profit.

“This fight was a publicity stunt without regard for the risk of human life. It was a decision by the CEO of a small startup organization to put innocent, untrained civilians in harm's way just to sell tickets,” Mr Chatri wrote in a Facebook post.

“I do not know the CEO of Asia Fighting Championship and I have no idea who he or she is. As someone with over 30 years of martial arts experience though, I find it reckless and irresponsible for a promoter to ask two untrained civilians without proper training or knowledge to compete in a professional bout.”

He added: “The vast majority of first-timers in the ring will have proper training, basic defensive skills, reasonable technique, adequate preparation time, safety protective head gear and shin pads, etc. After watching the video of the fight, I can assure you that Steven and Pradip had almost zero knowledge of how to protect themselves, let alone how to execute any martial arts technique. They were both complete beginners.”

He was referring to YouTube personality Steven Lim and bodybuilder Pradip Subramanian, who died after the bout because of a cardiac arrest respiratory failure, according to AFC, citing a preliminary medical report from the Singapore General Hospital. The police are investigating the unnatural death.

Mr Pradip, 32, the president of the World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Federation Singapore, was a last-minute stand-in for the bout, after former Singapore Idol Sylvester Lim pulled out owing to “insurance issues”.

Mr Chatri pinned the blame on AFC chief executive Sasidharan Unnithan, 38, for the tragedy, saying it was clear neither of the contestants were prepared, either physically or in technique, to go into the ring. He said it was “evident that both Steven and Pradip were in no shape to compete as both demonstrated zero cardio fitness”.

Mr Chatri questioned the “level of experience, credentials and knowledge (Mr Sasidharan) possesses in both business and martial arts”, saying he “suspect(s) that he … knows very little about either subject matter”.

Mr Chatri said organisers of top sporting events regard safety as the top priority, in comparison. Among other things, they make sure athletes do not take unnecessary risks by sending them for scans, blood tests and hydration tests, for instance. There are also full-time medical staff employed.

“Safety is everything in the world of sports. Of course, tragedies can still occur as we see with crashes in F1, or heart attacks in the EPL. However, these situations are not the result of reckless and irresponsible acts by F1 or EPL,” noted Mr Chatri, adding that in more than 600 bouts organised by One Championship since its launch in 2011, all have been completed without any serious injuries inside the cage.

He added that it was a sad day for Singapore and the martial arts community here. “It is not a reflection of the martial arts community in Singapore, and it is not a reflection of the global sports community. Let this tragedy be yet another precious reminder for all of us to put safety as our #1 priority - always and without fail,” Mr Chatri wrote.

On Sunday, Mr Sasidharan said the “celebratory” nature of the bout was why no headgear was provided. He added that the organisers had done health and indemnity checks, the medics and referee were tasked to step in if the fighters got uncomfortable, and the fighters were briefed not to be violent.

Expressing his condolences to Mr Pradip’s family and friends, Mr Chatri said: “I never had the opportunity to meet Pradip, but I am told that he was a great guy with a happy, larger-than-life personality and that he was loved by everyone. May you rest in peace, Pradip.”

TODAY has reached out to Mr Sasidharan for comments.

Related topics

Pradip Subramanian bodybuilder Asia Fighting Championship ONE Championship

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