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Bodybuilder who collapsed after 2017 celebrity muay thai bout died of a natural cause

Bodybuilder Pradip Subramanian, who collapsed after a 2017 celebrity muay thai bout against YouTube personality Steven Lim, died of cardiomegaly – an enlarged heart- with abnormal heart rhythms.

Following an inquiry, State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam stated in her findings dated Feb 11 this year that the 31-year-old Singaporean died from a natural cause.

Associate consultant forensic pathologist Wu Jia Hao, from the Health Sciences Authority, who performed his autopsy, had said that genetic screening for inheritable cardiac conditions revealed a pathogenic variant in the KCNQ1 gene.

This is a genetic mutation associated with abnormal function of the ion channels in the heart muscle, resulting in abnormal heart rhythms, the court heard.

Dr Wu felt that these conditions may predispose Mr Pradip to acute abnormal heart rhythms, resulting in sudden cardiac death.

Mr Pradip, who was the president of the World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Federation, had gone through a medical screening before the match and was found to be fit for the bout.

He also made a declaration, stating that he was free from any adverse medical conditions.

In her findings, State Coroner Kamala said two independent medical experts had found that the screening was adequate.

She added: “The on-site doctor would not have been able to detect Mr Pradip’s medical condition, as it would have required an ECG (electrocardiogram) to have been conducted.

“Both independent medical experts noted that Mr Pradip had not reported any symptoms related to cardiomegaly to the on-site doctor during the pre-match medical screening.

“The second independent medical expert also stated that the medical attention provided on-site was adequate and timely.”

She also said that two representatives from national sports agency SportsSG have recommended that individuals taking part in sporting events involving high cardiovascular risk should undergo annual screenings which include an ECG.

She said: “It was emphasised that adequate and appropriate training with a gradual build up in volume and intensity is essential for minimising the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

“They also warned that being fit in one sport does not necessarily mean that the individual is fit for another sport. There must be self-awareness of one’s fitness level and medical conditions.”

Mr Lim, then 41, was scheduled to fight former Singapore Idol contestant Sylvester Sim in the celebrity muay thai bout during the inaugural Asia Fighting Championship at the Marina Bay Sands Expo Hall A on Sept 23, 2017.

But Mr Sim, then 34, withdrew two days before the fight, citing insurance coverage issues.

Mr Pradip was announced as his replacement the next day. The Straits Times reported in October that year that the bout was his first muay thai match.

On the day of the match, Mr Pradip went through a medical screening process by an on-site doctor before entering the ring with Mr Lim at around 8.10pm.

About 10 minutes after Mr Lim was declared the winner, Mr Pradip slumped down against the padded corner column of the ring.

He was rushed to the Singapore General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9.51pm.

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