- Associated Press - Friday, January 8, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) - After Russian President Vladimir Putin and national judo team coach Ezio Gamba took each other to the mat in a practice, Putin followed up with a smooth move - granting the Italian a Russian passport.

Putin and Gamba squared off in a training session on Friday in the resort city of Sochi, portions of which were shown on state television, where Putin likes to show off his athleticism.

Afterward, Putin announced Gamba had been awarded Russian citizenship. He praised Gamba for leading Russia’s judo team to “surprising results and remarkable success” in the Olympics.

Under Gamba, Russia led the judo medal count in the 2012 Olympics with three golds, one silver and one bronze.

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