Fight like an Egyptian: Sisi will soon become a black belt in Taekwondo

Fight like an Egyptian: Sisi will soon become a black belt in Taekwondo
Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has bizarrely been awarded a black belt in Taekwondo, despite never having set a foot onto the mats.
2 min read
07 Jun, 2017
Egyptian athletes have suffered from chronic neglect and underfunding [Twitter/@R22N2]

With all the news about the ongoing political crisis in the Gulf, the bizarre announcement that Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been awarded a black belt in Taekwondo may have passed you by.

The 62-year-old, who has likely never competed in any form of martial art, is set to be honoured with the "highest ranking belt" in the Korean kicking-focused combat sport later this summer, local media reported.

The head of the African Taekwondo Union and Vice President of the International Taekwondo Union, Ahmad al-Fouly, who unsurprisingly is also from Egypt, delivered the message on Monday.

Fouly said at a press conference on the World Taekwondo Cadet Championship, which will take place in the resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh this August, that besides the black belt Sisi would also be receiving an honorary "African belt".

The sports official said the lofty distinction was only given out to heads of state, "who have had a role in supporting young people and sports".

Since leading a military coup against Egypt's first freely elected president in 2013, Sisi's regime has imprisoned tens of thousands of young Islamist and left-wing activists with thousands also being killed.

Athletes have also suffered from chronic neglect and underfunding from the state.

Last month, a young wrestler, who works in a kebab shop to make ends meet, won a gold medal for his adopted country of Bulgaria because he said Egyptian authorities were unwilling to pay for injury rehabilitation.

In 2013, a Kung Fu fighter faced a life ban from competition after he staged a protest against a Sisi-led dispersal of anti-coup protests, which left hundreds dead.

Sisi will become the fifth public figure to receive a honorary black belt after Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin - an actual Judo black belt - Ban Ki-moon and Pope Francis.

Since the news of Sisi's black belt has emerged, social media has been alight with jokes and humorous comments.

"Does Sisi even know how to say the word 'Taekwondo'," said one Twitter user.

Another one said: "The one thing I want to see in my life right now is see his excellency the president in a Taekwondo bout".