One-legged Ilonggo triathlete Rodolfo “Rudy” Fernandez, popularly known as the “Iron Man of Asia,” passed away on Sunday, Jan. 2. He was 75.

The death of the multi-awarded triathlete was confirmed by Nereo Lujan, head of the Iloilo Provincial Government’s Public Information and Community Affairs Office (PICAO).

His family has yet to make a statement on the cause of his death.

Fernandez drew national attention in 1996 when he swam the 28-mile Iloilo Strait, from Iloilo to Guimaras, in eight hours to beat the record of Terry Fox, who swam across the English Channel.

In the same year, he received a Hero for Heroes award from Reader’s Digest for his charity works.

Fernandez was a former national record holder in the mile (1,600 meters) before he was amputated and lost his right leg (from above the knee) in a grenade blast that transpired in a movie house in Iloilo in 1979.

A real-life hero, Fernandez initiated a 104-kilometer fund-raising run for Iloilo’s disabled sector from Sara town in Iloilo province to Iloilo City in six days in 1986.

In 2000, he staged another fund-raising activity by cycling 240 kilometers from Iloilo City to Camp Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz. This time, he raised funds for the families left by Ilonggo armies killed in the Mindanao conflict.

Fernandez was part of Philippine Team from 1972 to 1976 as a middle distance runner.

It was also in 1972 when he won a silver medal in the Pesta Sukan Games in Singapore.

In 2006, he was one of the 14 official housemates of ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition.

In 2017, Fernadez set a new record in the sport’s history of the country by non-stop cycling for 24-hours in La Paz plaza, Iloilo City.IMT