Donald Trump has been awarded an honorary black belt in taekwondo by a South Korean academy due to his interest in the martial art. The belt marks the former US president as a ?Ninth Dan?, the highest attainable level.
The coveted belt and certificate were given to Trump on Friday by Lee Dong-seop, president of the Seoul-based Kukkiwon, also known as the World Taekwondo Headquarters. The handover ceremony was held at Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.
"It is my pleasure and honor to receive this honorary certificate. Taekwondo is a great martial art for protecting oneself in these times," Trump said, according to South Korean newspaper Dong-a Ilbo.
The former president said he would wear the taekwondo suit in the US Congress should he return to the White House in the future, the paper reported. Trump also invited the Kukkiwon team to hold a taekwondo demonstration in the US.
"I heard that Donald Trump is highly interested in taekwondo," said Lee, who apparently requested Trump's continued support for and cooperation with Kukkiwon and the martial art.
According to the Kukkiwon website, promotion to the highest level requires a candidate to complete at least nine years of training and submit a minimum 10-page thesis on their "Taekwondo Life" or "Taekwondo Spirit."
The recognition means Trump now shares the same rank as Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was awarded an honorary black belt and made a grandmaster of taekwondo during an official visit to South Korea in 2013.
However, Putin is a veteran practitioner of other martial arts as well, particularly judo in which he famously holds a black belt.