‘Sporty’ Putin ‘loves his body’: Inside Russian tyrant’s bizarre personality

Boris Johnson responds to Putin's 'topless' jibe

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The tension between Putin and the West ramped up last week as the Russian President became embroiled in a spat with the G7. Leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations mocked the Kremlin strongman’s macho image as they discussed how to further respond to Russia’s four-month war in Ukraine. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau were among those to hit out at the Russian leader over shirtless photos of him taken in the Siberian wilderness. Putin has tried to demonstrate his athletic abilities over the years by taking part in photo opportunities for everything from ice hockey to fishing and skiing.

He is also a judo black belt and co-wrote the book, ‘Judo: History, Theory, Practice’, although he was stripped of his titles related to the sport in March by the International Judo Federation.

Putin’s “sporty” nature was discussed in a throwback documentary by British politicians, who claimed he “loves his body”.

The UK’s former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the former British Ambassador to Russia, Sir Roderic Lyne compared the Russian leader’s love of himself to that of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr Straw said: “My impression of this was, he was a guy who was in charge, who was comfortable in his skin.

“Of course, Tony Blair was the same. So, there was a lot of testosterone around.

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“With Tony, one of the reasons he was so successful was he had a very strong sense of who he is and who he was.

“Also, he likes himself and he likes his body.

“Neither would thank me for saying this but they are actually remarkably similar in many ways.”

The comparison between Putin and Mr Blair came in the 2018 BBC documentary ‘Putin: The New Tsar’.

The programme looked at how Mr Blair was the first world leader Putin wanted to meet when he became President in 2000.

Sir Roderic claimed that the ex-Labour leader actually helped the former KGB officer “learn” how to become a political leader.

Speaking about Putin, he said: “I first met him early in the year 2000. He was very much the apprentice leader. He had been surprised to find himself President of Russia.

“When he became President, everybody in Moscow was saying who is this man?

“He has no political background. He hardly ever made a political speech. He was quite nervous, but also very sharp.

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“He selected Tony Blair as the first foreign leader that he wished to meet because at the time Tony Blair was the preeminent leader in Europe, was at the height of his popularity.

“And in a sense, one felt that Putin was trying to learn from Tony Blair, how to be a political leader.”

The documentary also features top neuroscientist and clinical psychologist Professor Ian Robertson, the founding director of Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience.

The expert, who has analysed Putin for world leaders, claimed the Russian President’s power and self-obsession had led him into narcissism.

He said: “One of the features of unlimited power is the acquired narcissism that occurs.

“The acquired narcissism leads to an enormously inflated ego.

“You’re teaching cranes to fly or you’re fighting bears. You’re wrestling tigers. You’re just the smartest, cleverest, strongest, best-looking guy in the world.

“And if you inflate an ego enough then the vulnerability of it increases proportionately.”

‘Putin: The New Tsar’ is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

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