Given his status as one of the most famous sportsmen in Russia, Fedor Emelianenko has enjoyed a fair amount of pageantry and adoration from fans and celebrities alike. He has even fought in front of his country’s president, Vladimir Putin, on numerous occasions and formed a friendship with the long-reigning leader.
While Fedor initially retired three years ago, Putin – sambo practitioner and 5th degree Judo black belt — remained in touch with the legend and even called him to wish him luck once he announced his return to MMA.
“Yes, we talked,” Fedor revealed to rsport.ru. “He said he would be very worried (with a smile). And he wished me luck.”
Putin has been pictured next to Emelianenko and Jean-Claude Van Damme during the Affliction days and was later ringside for one of Fedor’s last fights against Jeff Monson. Fedor has also been invited numerous times to attend various sports events as Putin’s guest of honor.
Fedor returns to professional competition on Dec. 31 at the Saitama Super Arena for upstart promotion Rizin Fighting Federation. His opponent is yet to be determined.