Today marks the 20th anniversary of when Vladimir Putin was elected president of Russia. Get to know "The Gray Cardinal" himself with these five facts you probably didn't know about Vladimir Putin...
He Has Black Belts—Yep, More Than One—in Karate. Back in 2014, then-62-year-old Putin earned his third black belt in karate. Not only does the Russian president have a 5th-degree judo black belt and 9th-degree black belt in taekwondo (the highest rank possible, granting him the prestigious title of "Grand Master"), he also has an "8th Dan" black belt in Kyokushin-kan karate.
He Has His Own Comic Book. Most of us only dream of having a superhero molded after us on the pages of a comic book. President Putin gets to live it every day. You can check out SuperPutin online, where the Russian president can be found karate chopping terrorists and going head-to-head against a horde of zombies. He also held a gallery showing of some of the comics in Moscow back in December 2017 after announcing his plans to run for a fourth presidential term.
He's Good Buds With Action Movie Star Steven Seagal. Every powerful world leader needs an eclectic sidekick. Kim Jong-Un of North Korea has Dennis Rodman, and Vladimir Putin has none other than Nico Toscani himself—Steven Seagal. The two have a storied friendship stemming from their mutual love of martial arts. Seagal once called Putin "one of the greatest living world leaders." Putin repaid the compliment by attempting to get Seagal named an honorary delegate to Russia in California and Arizona (a request that Barack Obama reportedly scoffed at and said, "You've got to be kidding.")
He Doesn't Speak Very Good English. Only about three percent of Russians today are fluent in English—President Putin is not among them. Putin generally refrains from speaking English in public settings due to his lack of comfort with the language. Get him in a room with a German dignitary—like Chancellor Angela Merkel for example—and he turns into a regular jabber-jaw. Putin speaks perfect German having spent time in East Germany during his time in the KGB (he was there when the Berlin Wall came down).
He's Driven a Formula One Car...By Himself. Putin is known for his feats of manliness that range from catching 46-pound pike fish in Northern Russia to shooting a whale with a crossbow. Putin has openly admitted that some of his adventures have been fake stunts, but here's one you can't fabricate: sitting behind the wheel of a Formula One. Putin reportedly drove a Formula One racing car—by himself—in 2010. According to witnesses, Putin topped out at 150 MPH before skidding to a halt.