Kim Jong II, the North Korean leader who died in December 2011, liked to call himself the greatest golfer in the history of the world. According to Kim's official state media, the sweet-swinging strongman routinely shot three or four holes-in-one per round. Most famously, Kim boasted of a remarkable round at the 7,700-yard Pyongyang Golf Course in 1994 in which he shot an astonishing 38-under-par that included (depending on the account) between five and 11 holes-in-one.
Vladimir Putin (hockey)
Recently re-elected Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sure looks like he knows his way around the rink as he takes part in training for the USSR Hockey Legends club at the Megasport Arena in Moscow last Friday. It got us thinking about other leaders through the years, and how they pursued their particular sports passions around their busy schedules of running the world. Here's a look at a few of our favorites. (And by the way, nobody came anywhere close to checking the former head of the KGB.)
Richard Nixon (bowling)
The 37th president and his wife, Pat, were avid bowlers. In 1969, the newly elected chief exec had a single lane — funded by supporters, not the taxpayers — installed in an old, basement-level workspace at the White House, where this classic 1970 photo was taken. The shot of Nixon attempting to convert a spare has become a popular poster, most famously hanging on The Dude’s wall in the movie “The Big Lebowski.” For the record, bowling lanes were first installed at the White House in 1947, as a birthday gift for President Truman — even though “Give 'Em Hell Harry’’ wasn’t much for the game.
Barack Obama (basketball)
Basketball is President Obama's game — and here he moves the ball upcourt, showing off his Audacity of Hoop.
Princes Charles, William and Harry (polo)
Prince Charles and Prince Harry (pictured), along with Harry's brother Prince William, have all been known to get in the saddle for polo games. In fact, Harry played a charity game of polo in 2009 during a visit to New York City to raise money for children in Africa.
George W. Bush (bowling)
While Nixon favored the more traditional form of bowling, Dubya preferred the candlepin version of the game — popular in the New England states, and using small, bocce-style balls without holes. Here, in the run-up to the New Hampshire primary in 2000, the future 43rd president dons the rented shoes and tries to woo a few votes.
Fidel Castro (baseball)
Legend has it that Cuba’s longtime dictator had a tryout with either the New York Yankees or Washington Senators in 1949, but was rejected -- changing the course of history for both the Western Hemisphere and the American League. Until health issues put him on the DL, "El Comandante" continued to occasionally don a uniform and swing the bat at Cuban League games (as pictured), and in the occasional pickup game with other revolutionaries.
Prince Albert II of Monaco (bobsledding)
Prince Albert competed in five Winter Olympics from 1988-2002 as a member of his nation's bobsled team. He's also a member of the International Olympic Committee and his wife, Charlene, competed in the 2000 Summer Olympics as a swimmer.
John Kerry (hockey)
All right, so maybe the former Massachusetts senator doesn't qualify as a WORLD leader, but he did win the Democratic nomination for president in 2004 — so ... almost. Here, shirking a helmet, Kerry brings the puck up ice during a Bruin Legends hockey game in Manchester, N.H., in 2004 — ironically, skating along the right wing.
Ronald Reagan (football)
He played George Gipp in "Knute Rockne, All American," but Ronald Reagan reprised his role as a passer in 1988, when he welcomed the Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins to the White House. The Great Communicator even audibled a pass play to Super Bowl hero Ricky Sanders.
Vladimir Putin (bobsledding)
Vladimir Putin (left) is the only repeat entry on this list. The Russian leader is out to prove his athletic abilities ... he's even willing to jump in a bobsled with no formal training.
Mao Zedong (pingpong)
Hey, even if you're busy leading a cultural revolution, seizing large estates and dividing land into people's communes, you need a little R&R. Here, the founding father of the People's Republic of China, who held control until his death in 1976, shows off his backhand in pingpong, China's national game.