Thirteen years after he stripped his way to notoriety on Singapore Idol, Steven Lim, 41, is in the news again. This time round, globally, for a publicity stunt gone wrong.
During the Asia Fighting Championship, Steven’s two-round, four-minute duel with World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Federation president, Pradip Subramanian, 32, ended in tragedy. Footage of the fight which took place on Sep 23 at Marina Bay Sands showed Steven delivering several blows to Pradip’s head before the referee called off the match early and Steven won by technical knockout. Thereafter, Pradip concussed and had to be helped out of the ring. He was rushed to the Singapore General Hospital where he died of cardiac arrest respiratory failure.
The Muay Thai match was originally supposed to be a showdown between SI alum, Sylvester Sim, and Steven. Billed as “the fight of the century”, Steven and Sly’s square off was to drum up hype for the inaugural fight fest. But a day before the bout, Sly pulled out of the match, citing insufficient insurance coverage. His replacement, Pradip, is reportedly the organiser’s close friend.
Pradip’s shocking death set in motion the finger-pointing game. ‘Blame Steven’ was the outcry of some pitchfork-carrying netizens. ‘No, this is all Sylvester Sim’s fault’, cried another bunch of keyboard warriors. ’Cos, you know, if it wasn’t for his last-minute pull-out, none of this would have happened, they wrote. Others rushed to crucify the organisers for their negligence, lack of safety protocols (no protective gear!) and reckless decision in roping in an unconditioned Pradip a mere 24 hours before the match. Typically, it takes about six months to prepare for a bout. In comparison, Steven trained for three-and-a-half months.
Sure, perhaps the organiser should be held liable for letting a fame-hungry wannabe fight a last-minute replacement for entertainment — a move that reeked of poor judgment that undermined the risk factor of combat sports. After all, if you’ve watched the fight footage, you would have seen Steven throwing punches mindlessly a la a playground brawl, and that during Round Two of the match, Pradip’s shoddy defense was no match for Steven’s aggressive advances.
But, at the end of the day, perhaps, Ah Boys to Men star Maxi Lim, who was present at the tragic Steven vs Pradip match, said it best in a YouTube vid: “Just stop pointing fingers at everybody. It’s so easy to blame everyone. But this is something that nobody wanted to happen.”