Putin stripped of taekwondo black belt and honorary judo title

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Photo of Alex Shultz

March 1, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin falls during judo trainings at Yug Sport complex in Sochi, Russia, February 14, 2019. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin falls during judo trainings at Yug Sport complex in Sochi, Russia, February 14, 2019. 

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long been a proponent of carefully staged athletic events in which he gets to dominate possibly terrified opponents. When he’s played in exhibition hockey games, for instance, he’s averaged roughly 10 goals, even though the games took place when he was in his mid- and late-60s.

Putin is also a big fan of taekwondo and judo, and does appear to be slightly better at both than he is at hockey, for whatever it’s worth (very little). There’s footage of him flipping a few sparring partners, and he even co-wrote a book about judo once upon a time.

But in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has kicked off a series of economic sanctions across the West, even the taekwondo and judo groups that previously bestowed special titles on Putin are pulling back on their endorsements. First, on Sunday, both the International Judo Federation and European Judo Federation announced they were suspending Putin from his roles as honorary president and ambassador.

A day later, World Taekwondo took an even firmer stance. 

“World Taekwondo strongly condemns the brutal attacks on innocent lives in Ukraine, which go against the World Taekwondo vision of ‘Peace is More Precious than Triumph’ and the World Taekwondo values of respect and tolerance,” the organization wrote. “In this regard, World Taekwondo has decided to withdraw the honorary 9th dan black belt conferred to Mr. Vladimir Putin in November 2013.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has also announced that it’s revoking Putin’s 2001 Olympic Order (its top honor), and has recommended that Russian athletes be excluded from international competition. 

 

Alex Shultz is the local editor for SFGATE. You can reach him at alex.shultz@sfgate.com.

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