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Vladimir Putin is now a black belt in taekwondo

World Taekwondo Federation awards Russian President Vladimir Putin a ninth-degree black belt for his work promoting the sport. Watch out Chuck Norris.

Vladimir putin judoEnlarge
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin takes part in a judo training session in St. Petersburg on Dec. 22, 2010. (ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin doesn’t dial the wrong number. You answer the wrong phone.

It appears the Russian president — some would say strongman — is destined to replace Chuck Norris as everyone’s favorite tough guy after he received a high honor from the World Taekwondo Federation on Wednesday.

The foundation's president, Chungwon Choue, awarded Putin an honorary ninth-degree black belt certificate and a taekwondo uniform in recognition the president’s work in developing taekwondo in Russia.

“We are so grateful to President Putin for the commitment he has shown in promoting taekwondo in Russia, and we are delighted to hear that he wants to continue to develop the sport in his country in the future,” Choue said. “Russia is an incredibly important country for our sport and we are sure that, with the president’s endorsement and support, it will continue to evolve rapidly over the coming years.”

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The move turned some heads because, well, Putin doesn’t participate in taekwondo, as RIA Novosti reported.

The 61-year-old world leader does practice judo, and told Choue he’s keen to promote martial arts in Russia. Before he was president, Putin won a judo championship in his hometown of St. Petersburg and has an eighth-degree black belt in the sport, according to RIA Novosti.

Ninth-degree black belts are extremely rare; Norris has an eighth-degree belt.

"I'm not sure I deserve this," Putin said, according to Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency.

In fairness to Putin, he isn’t the only world leader to receive such an honor. American President Barack Obama received a black belt during a state visit to South Korea in 2009, RIA Novosti said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/politics/world-leaders/131113/vladimir-putin-now-black-belt-taekwondo