World Taekwondo stripped Russian President Vladimir Putin of his honorary ninth-degree blackbelt Monday while condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“World Taekwondo strongly condemns the brutal attacks on innocent lives in Ukraine, which go against the World Taekwondo vision of ‘Peace is More Precious than Triumph’ and the World Taekwondo values of respect and tolerance,” World Taekwondo said in a statement.
“In this regard, World Taekwondo has decided to withdraw the honorary 9th dan black belt conferred to Mr. Vladimir Putin in November 2013,” World Taekwondo continued.
Tonight! The international taekwondo organization strips Putin of his black belt. Good! No belt makes it easier for Ukraine to spank him.
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) March 1, 2022
When Putin was awarded the ninth-degree black belt, he outstripped Chuck Norris’s eighth-degree ranking. Putin is not an active practitioner of Taekwondo, but has won championships competing in Judo. (RELATED: Vladimir Putin Dined With Steven Seagal Before Judo Match, Because Why Not?)
World Taekwondo awarded Putin the black belt “in recognition of President Putin’s work in developing taekwondo in Russia” during the Russian President’s 2013 visit to South Korea.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has seen a number of sports organizations respond vocally against Russia, including FIFA and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC). In a letter, USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland stated that “we are disappointed” in the International Paralympic Committee’s decision to let athletes from Russia and Belarus compete in the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
World Taekwondo has awarded honorary blackbelts to a number of World Leaders, including former President Barack Obama, according to the LA Times. In November 2021, World Taekwondo also awarded former President Donald Trump his honorary ninth-degree black belt, the New York Post reported.