On this day in the year 2000, Vladimir Putin was elected president of Russia. Get to know "The Gray Cardinal" himself with these five surprising facts you probably didn't know about the former KGB agent and Russian president.
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 Friends 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 Loves The Beatles
You might not have much in common with Vladimir Putin. But if you love The Beatles, that’s one thing!
His favorite Beatle is Paul McCartney – and his favorite Beatles tune is “Yesterday.” As a huge Beatles fan, it’s not surprising that Putin was partially responsible for getting a Beatle to perform in Russia. In 2003, Paul McCartney took the stage in Moscow's Red Square and proceeded to rock the socks off of Vladimir Putin and 20,000 other Russians. The show was the first time a Beatle had ever set foot in or played in Russia.
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).