Vladimir Putin and Shinzo Abe take time out to enjoy judo

Putin's love of judo causes boom in Russia
Putin's love of judo causes boom in Russia

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Story highlights

  • Vladimir Putin and Shinzo Abe attend judo tournament in Vladivostok
  • The two world leaders took a break from the Eastern Economic Forum

Vladivostok (CNN)Russian president Vladimir Putin and fellow world leaders took time away from the Eastern Economic Forum Thursday to enjoy a shared passion -- judo.

Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga were all in attendance for the International Vladivostok Jigoro Kano Junior Judo Tournament.
All three are keen advocates of the sport. Putin is a black belt, while Battugla was head of his country's judo federation and a wrestling World Cup champion in 1989.
    Speaking to the press Japan's Olympic gold medalist Yasuhiro Yamashita at the Eastern Economic Forum, Abe suggested he challenge Putin to a judo contest, according to Russian state news agency Itar-Tass.
    Putin's love for judo has helped the sport develop a keen following in Russia, according to judokas present in Vladivostok.
    France's Teddy Riner poses with his gold medal on the podium after he won the men's  +100kgs final contest match of the judo event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 28, 2012 in London.      AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA        (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/GettyImages)
    France's Teddy Riner poses with his gold medal on the podium after he won the men's  +100kgs final contest match of the judo event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 28, 2012 in London.      AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA        (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/GettyImages)

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    "I think the fact that Putin loves judo does help it to be a more popular sport," judo master Vladimir Sinistin told CNN.
    "And if your leader does judo and has an athletic title, and Putin is a master of this sport, of course this sport gets more attention.

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    "That's why Russia hired a good coach from Italy, who assembled a good team and took it to a high level, internationally."