The Russian Internet is abuzz with rumors that a famous female boxer is Vladimir Putin’s new girlfriend after the two were seen together last week.
Natalia “Sledgehammer” Ragozina is a 39-year-old blonde who won all major female super middleweight boxing titles before retiring in 2009. At the height of her career, Ragozina—who was undefeated—was recognized as the world’s best female boxer. All the while, though, she continued to appear in seductive photoshoots, including one for Penthouse.
Ragozina and Putin’s most recent appearance together was from an international sambo tournament in Sochi last week, from which the Kremlin disseminated an official photo of Ragozina—wearing a body-hugging blue dress—smiling excitedly at Putin. The caption was decidedly more stale: “Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) sits next to former boxer Natalia Ragozina (Natascha Ragosina) as they attend an international combat sambo tournament.”
Coverage of the event from NTV, a Gazprom-owned TV channel, reported that Ragozina sat between Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at the event. “In Sochi she wore heels and an evening dress,” NTV added, swapping out her athletic garb.
Putin, it seems, likes sporty women as much as he enjoys publicizing his own athletic endeavors. The 62-year-old leader is known for showing off his physique in shirtless shots, judo matches, and the occasional arm wrestling competition. Just yesterday the Kremlin released images of Putin and Medvedev working out in Sochii.
Ragozina is just the latest rumored squeeze of Putin’s. In March, the media erupted with reports Alina Kabaeva was giving birth to Putin’s child in a Swiss hospital. While she was widely derided as a homewrecker after Putin announced a formal divorce from longtime wife Lyudmila in 2014, Kabaeva drew even more scrutiny for her role in Putin’s pet Sochi Olympics: The ex-rhythmic gymnast was chosen over far more qualified athletes to light the Olympic torch.
Footage of Putin’s latest visit to Sochi, in contrast, shows the 5’11” Ragozina towering over 5’7” Putin.
“The difference in build only bothers bloggers who write about it. Natalya boldly wears heels, which make her even taller,” a gossip site comments approvingly.