The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Nearly a decade ago, Putin received a taekwondo black belt. A global organization has taken it away.

World Taekwondo Federation President Choue Chung-won gives an honorary taekwondo black belt and uniform to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Seoul in 2013. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti Kremlin Press Service/AP)

In the blink of an eye, Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013 reached the highest level one can achieve in taekwondo. Though it was just honorary, receiving the ninth-degree black belt shot him past the level achieved by martial artist and movie star Chuck Norris, who has an eighth-degree black belt.

Now, just as quickly, World Taekwondo has stripped Putin of the honor as Russia continues its assault on Ukraine.

“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 said in a statement Monday.

The organization also said it would not allow Russian or Belarusian flags to be waved or anthems to be played at its events — and its tournaments, along with those of the European Taekwondo Union, will not be held in Russia. “World Taekwondo’s thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and we hope for a peaceful and immediate end to this war,” the statement added.

World Taekwondo is among several international sports organizations to strip Putin of the honors awarded to him over the years. On Sunday, the International Judo Federation said it was suspending Putin, a judo black belt, as its honorary president and ambassador. FINA, the international organization governing water sports, on Tuesday withdrew the prestigious FINA Order it awarded Putin in 2014.

Putin, black belt in judo, suspended as honorary president of International Judo Federation

The penalties on the Russian president are among a flood of actions being taken by international sports organizations to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. FIFA, the world’s governing soccer body, and its European counterparts on Monday suspended Russians from international competition, as the International Olympic Committee recommended that sporting organizations not allow Russian and Belarusian players to participate in sporting events. Organizations governing hockey, ice skating, tennis and other sports have taken varying measures against the country.

Putin has long touted his involvement in sports and projected a strongman image. Photos have circulated of the Russian leader playing hockey, hunting shirtless and taking opponents down on the judo mat. In particular, Putin has broadcast his judo skills — having produced videos and written books about the martial art form — even as some have questioned if he’s actually any good.

Is Vladimir Putin a judo fraud?

World Taekwondo in 2013 awarded Putin the black belt “in recognition of President Putin’s work in developing taekwondo in Russia,” the organization said at the time.

In November, former president Donald Trump was also given the honor of the highest-level black belt, the New York Post reported.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russia fired at least 85 missiles on at least six major cities in Ukraine on November 15, in one of the most widespread attacks of the war so far. The strikes came just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking by video link, presented a 10-point peace plan to G-20 leaders at a summit in Indonesia. As in previous Russian missile attacks, critical civilian infrastructure appeared to be primary targets. Parts of several cities that were hit were left without electrical power on Tuesday afternoon.

Russia’s Gamble: The Post examined the road to war in Ukraine, and Western efforts to unite to thwart the Kremlin’s plans, through extensive interviews with more than three dozen senior U.S., Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.

Loading...