Vladimir Putin's "second father" was a judo supremo who 'saved' the Russian President from the streets.
The death of Anatoly Rakhlin was "a big, irreplaceable loss" for a grieving Putin in 2013 — long before he ordered the bloody invasion of Ukraine over two months ago.
According to the book titled 'In the First Person. Talks with Vladimir Putin', Rakhlin was so influential on the future tyrant's life — in and out of the sports hall — that Putin considered him to be a second dad, the Mirror reports.
Before dying aged 75, Rakhlin had risen the ranks in Russian sport to become the head coach of the Russian women’s national judo team in 2009, having trained a young Putin for 11 years.
In a telegram of condolence posted on the presidential website, Putin said that he was deeply saddened by Rakhlin's passing and that it represented "a big, irreplaceable loss for all of us."
"Anatoly Solomonovich was a robust, strong-willed, smart and whole-hearted man, he was respected and loved by his colleagues and friends and, certainly, trainees, for whom Anatoly Solomonvich [Rakhlin] was a true teacher and a careful mentor in sports and life,” the president said.
He added that the memory of the coach “will live forever in our hearts.”
According to The Moscow Times, the Russian leader laid flowers at Rakhlin's grave in St. Petersburg and spent time, with his head bowed, standing next to his former coach's coffin.
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"We're now thinking about how to immortalize his memory. Maybe there'll be a monument or something else," said State Duma Deputy Vasily Shestakov, who as a young man sparred with Putin under Rakhlin's tutelage.
In the book titled 'In the First Person. Talks with Vladimir Putin ', it described how the future president became acquainted with Rakhlin by going to the wrestling club in Leningrad.
“This was a common sports hall, which belonged to the sports society Trud. There I had a very good coach – Anatoly Semenovich Rakhlin,” Putin said.
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The Russian leader credits his coach with playing a decisive role in his.
“If I had not been going in for sports, I do not know which turn my life would have taken," he said.
"This is Anatoly Semenovich (Solomonovich) actually protected me from the influence of the groups of young people in the streets. Frankly speaking, the situation was far from being good there."
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