He had a chequered past but had turned his life around.
In place of drugs and drink, he took up kickboxing.
He even quit smoking.
But on March 8, 2011, Mr Goh Ho Leong, then 52, was attacked in Tiong Bahru Park and died two days later in hospital.
His friend of about 12 years, who wanted to be known only as Mr Bhai, 39, told The New Paper on Wednesday: "He would never pick a fight with anyone. He totally changed himself. I don't know why this happened,"
Mr Bhai, who was Mr Goh's neighbour till about five years before he died, said his friend would visit him and his wife about once a month.
"He had quit regular drinking for many years and would tell me not to drink so much. He'd tease me by calling me 'jiu gui' (Chinese for alcoholic)," he said.Mr Bhai, who works at a warehouse, visited Mr Goh when he was in hospital with serious injuries and it pained him to see his friend "smashed up."
"He was a nice guy. Even though he knew how to kick-box, he wouldn't disturb people."
Mr Goh would practise martial arts in the evenings, and Mr Bhai said his friend might have been out training that night.
He said that Mr Goh was doing odd jobs at the time.
In an 2011 interview with TNP, one of Mr Goh's brothers said that before he went out on that fateful night, he had told his mother he was going to meet someone about a security guard position.
Asked if he missed his friend, Mr Bhai sighed and said: "I can't do anything. He is gone."
Mr Goh's father, Mr Goh Cheng Hock, 83, said his second son was a good boy and studied hard when younger, but went astray in his adult years.
His son was in and out of prison but maintained good relations with his seven siblings, the cleaner said.
"He was especially close to his mother and lived with her at Havelock Road. She was so sad when he died. She died a year after him from gastric problems."
Mr Goh said that although his son never married, he had the gift of the gab and had many friends, as well as a girlfriend who lived in the block behind his Lengkok Bahru flat.
"What happened to Ah Leong, why did so many people attack him? I don't know. I have already let go," he said.
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