MOSCOW, Russia, October 10 – Russia’s judo-mad President Vladimir Putin, who turned 60 earlier this week and in the past sparred with top judokas, has been promoted to the eighth dan in the sport, the International Judo Federation (IJF) said on Wednesday.
The ninth dan indicates the rank of a grand master, and only a few living people in the world are believed to have the highest 10th dan.
“President Putin represents a high expression of the judo values in the world,” IJF president Marius Vizer said in a statement.
Putin is the martial art federation’s honorary president.
He started practicing sambo — the official in-house martial art of the KGB security services — when he was in his early teens before switching to judo.
Putin, who is often pictured by the media wearing his judo uniform of zubon pants and jacket fastened by a black belt, also penned a judo manual and recorded an instructional DVD with world champion Yasuhiro Yamashita from Japan.
Putin’s minders often use his judo training sessions to demonstrate that the Russian leader, who returned to the Kremlin for a third term in May, is in top physical shape.