Alexander Pisarev, a Russian MMA fighter, died at the age of 33 after allegedly eating a poisoned watermelon.
Pisarev, who had a 3-2 professional MMA record before his death, was discovered dead in his Moscow apartment by his father on October 30.
‘Alexander Pisarev died in his sleep and had no chronic health problems,’ an unnamed member of the featherweight’s Tomahawk team told Russian news agency TASS. According to preliminary data, the death was caused by food poisoning.’
Several media outlets, including Pravda, claim Pisarev died after eating a watermelon with his wife, who is said to have been hospitalized, though they also ate other products.
Igor Vladimirovich, the fighter’s father, returned to his apartment after walking the family’s dog to discover that he was no longer breathing.
‘I looked into the room — Alexander and his wife were sleeping,’ Vladimirovich is quoted as saying by Pravda. ‘ As I got closer, I realized my son was no longer breathing.
‘There were finger fractures after the last fights, but this is nothing. We all eat the same food and live together.’
Melons do not naturally contain bacteria that can cause illness, but their outer skin can become contaminated as they grow close to the ground.
They can also become contaminated during and after harvesting due to improper handling, storage, and transportation.
A recent Salmonella outbreak in Norway, which sickened 20 people, was thought to be caused by watermelons, while similar cases earlier this year in the UK were linked to honeydew, cantaloupe, and galia melons from Costa Rica or Honduras.
Pisarev’s relatives maintain that he was in good health and had no chronic diseases.
An autopsy will determine the cause of his death, with the Moscow Region Investigative Committee saying: ‘In Balashikha, an investigation was organized into the death of an athlete as a result of poisoning.
‘Investigators, with the participation of a forensic specialist, are conducting an additional inspection of the scene, confiscating items relevant to the investigation, and planning a forensic chemical examination.’
Pisarev, a former Moscow champion in hand-to-hand combat and grappling, competed under promotional banners such as Absolute Championship Berkut and Fight Nights Global, and reached the finals of the MMA European Championships.
His Tomahawk team said in a statement: ‘My brother, my friend, my student! Words cannot express the extent of the loss. Alexander Pisarev is the standard of friendship, decency and courage of a Russian person.
‘I and we will miss you!!! Rest in peace our brother.’