Vladimir Putin is awarded grandmaster rank in taekwondo and given black belt - despite not practising the sport

Russian president now ranks higher than Chuck Norris in South Korean martial art

Adam Withnall
Thursday 14 November 2013 11:54
Comments
World Taekwondo Federation president Choue Chung-won gives an honorary taekwondo black belt and uniform to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Seoul, South Korea
World Taekwondo Federation president Choue Chung-won gives an honorary taekwondo black belt and uniform to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Seoul, South Korea

Russian president Vladimir Putin has been presented with a black belt and made a grandmaster of taekwondo during an official visit to South Korea, state media said.

Despite not actually practicing taekwondo himself, Mr Putin has achieved the elusive ninth Dan – meaning he now ranks higher than famous US martial artist Chuck Norris, who is stuck on the eighth.

A softer side: Scroll down for video of Putin crying  

On Wednesday the head of the World Taekwondo Federation, Choue Chung-won, presented the Russian leader with the belt and a diploma bestowing the honorary status, according to reports from the official RIA Novosti news agency.

It means Mr Putin now actually ranks higher in taekwondo than he does in judo, a sport which he still takes part in despite being 61 years old.

Named judo champion of Leningrad – now St Petersburg – in his youth, the president also starred in an instructional video entitled “Let's Learn Judo With Vladimir Putin” in 2008. He is a black belt – but only holds the eighth Dan.

Visiting South Korea to promote plans for a new Asian-European rail trade route, Mr Putin modestly said: “I don’t think I have earned such a high Dan,” adding that he would continue to do his part promoting the South-Korean-born fighting style in Russia.

An estimated 70 to 80 million people practice taekwondo worldwide, and previous honorary black belts have included US president Barack Obama, his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak, and other leaders from Spain, Croatia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Honduras.

This week, Mr Putin let his tough guy persona slip while attending a concert dedicated to police officers who have died in the line of duty.

Surrounded by uniformed police generals, veterans and servicemen, the president was shown wiping a tear from his eye as a soft-rock ballad about police bravery came to a close.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in