It's a safe bet that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's personality cult will never wax that effusive, but does it need to? After all, Joseph Stalin was many things, but he was never an Olympic judo champion:
Vladimir Putin has offered to join the national judo team after showing off his martial arts skills to members of the squad.
The 57-year-old prime minister made the proposal at a special coaching session Friday that was aired on state television, adding to his carefully-crafted macho image.
Putin entered the hall of St. Petersburg’s School of Sport Mastery dressed in a white judogi and black belt, to applause from the assembled squad. After bowing, he went onto the mats, throwing squad members half his age and even tackling the chief trainer, Olympic gold medalist Ezio Gamba.
It's true that Ezio Gamba earned a gold in the 1980 Olympics and a silver in the 1984 Olympics. But Gamba competed as a lightweight. When 57 year old Vladimir Putin competes, even against men half his age, he's always a heavyweight.
Officials praised Putin’s technique in the Japanese martial art and dismissed any hint that he may have been allowed to win. “He has the psychology of a winner, the psychology of the victorious,” said Georgy Kukoverov, the school’s chief.
Of course he does.