The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a training session with members of the Russian national judo team in Sochi, Russia, in 2019. (Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images)
Placeholder while article actions load

The International Judo Federation said in a statement Sunday that it was suspending Russian President Vladimir Putin as its honorary president and ambassador, citing the “ongoing war conflict in Ukraine.”

The announcement came as Russian forces continued to bombard the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and other cities, leading to heavy street fighting and back-and-forth rocket firing.

The judo organization, which brings together more than 200 national federations, said Friday it had canceled its Grand Slam event in Kazan, Russia, which was set to be held in May. IJF President Marius Vizer said he was “saddened by the current international situation,” although the statement on the cancellation did not directly refer to Russia or Ukraine.

Following Russia’s invasion, some went on Twitter to call on the group to take additional steps to remove Putin from his leadership post.

The IFJ, which was founded in 1951 and has its headquarters in Hungary, said the unfolding conflict was a “result of inefficient dialogue at international level.”

Putin, 69, is a keen judoka and holds a black belt. He has co-written a book titled “Judo: History, Theory, Practice” and also starred in an instructional video, titled “Let’s Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin.”

In 2019, Putin was videoed sparring with Olympic athletes at a judo training session in Sochi, with Euro News reporting at the time that the president was shown on Russian television toppling several opponents before being taken down by a female judoka.

Putin also holds grandmaster rank in taekwondo, which he was awarded in 2013 by Choue Chung-won, president of the World Taekwondo Federation. While Putin has not practiced the sport himself, the honor was bestowed in recognition of his work developing the Korean martial art in Russia, the federation said in a statement at the time.

Following the move, the Independent reported that Putin’s award would place him a ranking higher than martial arts expert and action movie star Chuck Norris.

Loading...