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Vladimir Putin on the tatami for a match?

8 Sep 2017 13:00

 CNN    IJF Media Team / IJF

Russian president Vladimir Putin and fellow world leaders took time away from the Eastern Economic Forum to enjoy a shared passion judo. Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga were all in attendance for the International Vladivostok Jigoro Kano Junior Judo Tournament.

All three are keen advocates of the sport. Putin is a black belt, while Battulga was head of his country's judo federation and a wrestling World Cup champion in 1989.

Speaking to the press Japan's Olympic gold medalist Yasuhiro Yamashita at the Eastern Economic Forum, Abe suggested he challenge Putin to a judo contest, according to Russian state news agency Itar-Tass.

Putin's love for judo has helped the sport develop a keen following in Russia, according to judokas present in Vladivostok.

"I think the fact that Putin loves judo does help it to be a more popular sport," judo master Vladimir Sinistin told CNN.

"And if your leader does judo and has an athletic title, and Putin is a master of this sport, of course this sport gets more attention.

"That's why Russia hired a good coach from Italy, who assembled a good team and took it to a high level, internationally."

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