ABC's Alexander Marquardt reports from Moscow:
Action man Vladimir Putin is at it again, showing his country what a tough guy he is. The Russian prime minister has now offered up his black belt skills to the national Judo team following a team practice that saw him tossing various members of the squad to the mat like sacks of potatoes. "If you need direct help, you can include me in the team," he told the coach following the training. Russian state television broadcast images of the Russian premier entering a gym in a white judogi and black belt to applause and flashbulbs. The 57 year-old started off slowly, sparring with a teenage boy whom he promptly lifted off the ground and slammed to the mat. He then moved on to bigger opponents including a distinctly larger man who was quickly felled. After all, who’s going to actually embarrass the man most consider to be the most powerful in Russia? "He has the psychology of a winner, the psychology of the victorious," said Georgy Kukoverov, the head of the St. Petersburg School of Sports Mastery where the display took place, according to Reuters. The former KGB agent has carefully honed his macho image over the years with various photo-ops including judo fighting, shooting a tiger with a tranquilizer dart, and numerous shirtless vacation photos while fishing or riding a horse. He even released a judo DVD last year titled “Let’s Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin.” Though he is no longer president, Putin has sky-high approval ratings and is widely considered by experts to be more powerful than his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev. Recently, Putin has stoked speculation that he may be considering a return to the presidency in 2012.