- By Hanna KozlowskaHanna Kozlowska is a fellow at Foreign Policy. She previously worked as a fixer, researcher and freelance contributor for the New York Times in Poland, and as the associate editor for Poland Today, an English-language magazine. Her work has also appeared in the Huffington Post and several Polish publications. She graduated from Swarthmore College where she was coeditor in chief of The Daily Gazette.
He may be the most powerful man in the world (at least according to Forbes) but Russian President Vladimir Putin just got snubbed by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF. Yes, seriously –"WTF"). Though he was awarded an honorary black belt from the federation, it was a grade below the distinction given to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Putin got the ninth dan (grade) belt and dobok (uniform) during his visit to Seoul, South Korea for the "commitment he has shown in promoting taekwondo in Russia." The ever modest leader replied "I don’t think I have earned such a high Dan." Russia has announced they will be hosting several WTF Grand Prix events in the country.
Putin’s taekwondo qualifications seem to be elusive, but he is a judo champion and published author on the sport (he even recorded a "Let’s learn Judo with Vladimir Putin" video) and holds a legitimate black belt in karate. Ban Ki-moon’s tenth degree honorary taekwondo belt, awarded for "how strongly matched the WTF’s values are with the United Nations," probably wouldn’t be of much help if they ever were to fight it out.
Past recipients of tenth degree belts had been the slightly more qualified two former heads of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch and Jacques Rogge. An eighth dan was bestowed upon Chuck Norris, whose Walker, Texas Ranger drop-kicks have probably sent more children to martial arts schools than all the other dignitaries combined.
Oh, and let’s not forget Barack Obama, known for receiving distinctions he does not necessarily deserve, who was presented with a black belt in taekwondo from South Korea’s president.
Though he may have been skipped over for the Nobel Peace Prize, Putin has many more athletic feats up his sleeve. If we are to believe the photo-ops (here is an amazing collection from Russian news sevice RIA Novosti), the Russian president seems to be a master at any sport he endeavors, including skiing, hockey, fishing (without a shirt), biathlon, horseback riding (also without a shirt), bowling and the riveting sport of curling.
Rebecca Frankel is senior editor, special projects at Foreign Policy. She is the author of War Dogs (forthcoming in the fall of 2014 from Palgrave), a book about canines in combat, the subject of her regular Friday column "Rebecca's War Dog of the Week," featured on The Best Defense. Before joining FP in 2008, she was managing editor of Moment Magazine, a publication founded by Elie Wiesel in 1975, where she began working in 2003. In addition to her work on war dogs, Frankel has written on a wide range of topics from the religious escapades of singer Bob Dylan to Hitler's family doctor. Her profile of author Joyce Carol Oates was published in the collection Joyce Carol Oates: Conversations in 2006. She has appeared as a commentator on ABC World News and MSNBC among others. In 2011, she was named one of 12 women in foreign policy to follow on Twitter by the Daily Muse.| Passport |
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.| Passport |