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Move over Chuck Norris.
There is apparently someone on this Earth who could be more menacing than you.
And that someone is none other than the fear-inducing president of Russia, Vladimir Putin.
Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency reports that during a visit to South Korea, Putin was awarded the highest rank in taekwondo, a ninth-degree black belt, from Choue Chung-won, president of the World Taekwondo Federation.
That places Putin ahead of Norris, the legendary American tough guy and martial artist who sparred with Bruce Lee in 1972’s “Way of the Dragon,” who is said to have an eighth-degree black belt in taekwondo.
Each level of proficiency in taekwondo is called a “dan,” ranging from a scale of one to ten, so Putin is said to have a ninth dan. His official title in the sport is now honorary grand master or sasung.
What’s ironic is that the 61-year-old Putin does not even practice taekwondo, though he is an active participant in the martial art of judo.
"I'm not sure if I deserve this," Putin said modestly of the distinction. "I don't think I have earned such a high dan."
He did, however, promise that Russia would push for more development of martial arts.
While growing up in his hometown of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, Putin was actually a judo champion. In 2008, he starred in an instructional video titled, "Let's Learn Judo With Vladimir Putin."
Todd DuBord, co-author of "The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book," is intrigued by the honor given to Putin, but told WND, "Putin will never match up to 'the man' until he, too, sleeps with a pillow under his gun and can create tornadoes with his breath!"
DuBord was referring to the at least 500,000 Internet "facts" about Norris that have contributed to his legendary persona.
- "When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris."
- "Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants."
- "Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet with Chuck Norris."
When asked what he thought about the phenomenon, Norris said, "My answer is always the same: Some are funny. Some are pretty far out. And, thankfully, most are just promoting harmless fun."
Norris, 73, also downplays the notion that he's some sort of superhero.
"I've got a bulletin for you, folks. I am no superman. I realize that now, but I didn't always. As six-time world karate champion and then a movie star, I put too much trust in who I was, what I could do and what I acquired. I forgot how much I needed others and especially God. Whether we are famous or not, we all need God. We also need other people."