Top 10 Weirdest Habits of World Leaders

Script written by Craig Butler.

The weirdest habits of heads of state are scandalous, bizarre or just plain fascinating. Did you know Mikhail Gorbachev has a Grammy Award? The former Australian Prime Minister won a beer chugging contest? The President of Madagascar used to be a DJ? Former Canadian Prime Minster William Lyon Mackenzie King used to hold séances? Does that make them the craziest world leaders in history? You decide. WatchMojo counts down ten of the weirdest facts about famous leaders.

Special thanks to our user MikeyP for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Interesting%20Facts%20About%20World%20Leaders

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Script written by Craig Butler.

Top 10 Strange Facts About World Leaders You Probably Didn't Know


They did... what? Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down the top 10 strange facts you never knew about world leaders.

For this list, we’re looking at little known or strange facts about world leaders, past or present.

#10: Ex-Australian PM Really Knows How to Chug a Beer

Australian men have a reputation for being fond of beer, so it’s no surprise that Bob Hawke, who was the country’s prime minister from 1983-1991, likes his suds. What may be surprising is that he actually once held a Guinness world record for beer drinking. In 1953, Hawke chugged a yard of ale – about 2 ½ imperial pints – in 11 seconds. Hawke was a student at the time, but people have never forgotten the record-breaking accomplishment. As a matter of fact, he’s openly stated that he believes his yard of ale chug is responsible for his political success with a populace that appreciates the art of beer drinking.

#9: Nicolae Ceaușescu Took Paranoia to an Extreme

Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu wasn’t exactly the warm and cuddly type. When he ruled Romania, he instituted reforms that were brutal, even by Soviet-bloc standards. Perhaps best known for his austerity policy, which resulted in the starvation of his own people, the dictator was also off the charts on the paranoia scale. He was especially concerned that his clothes would somehow be poisoned, so he kept a stockpile of suits under lock and key and had staff protect them from possible contaminants. After wearing a suit, it was taken out and burned. Of course, with his approach to ruling, he had reason to be paranoid – he had turned his own country against him.

#8: The President of Madagascar Knew How to Spin Some Tunes

When Andry Rajoelina seized the presidency of Madagascar in 2009 at the age of 34, he was the youngest person ever to serve as an African president. He was also widely criticized, but then again... the guy he deposed wasn’t too popular either. An established entrepreneur, the young man’s charisma and fierce ambition had taken him from mayor to president in just two years. Strangely, it all started behind turntables - as a teenager, he began working as a DJ. It gave him some start-up capital and sparked his interest in exploring the world of business, from which he eventually branched out into politics.

#7: Muammar Gaddafi Had Interesting Hygiene Habits

Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi may have been a despot, but he was a despot that cared about his appearance. Internationally known for being exceedingly vain, Gaddafi worked hard to promote an image of himself as a sex symbol. To keep this image intact as he aged, he underwent plastic surgery at his private underground bunker - sometimes without anesthesia. It’s also been reported that he had the odd habit of washing his hands in the blood of a freshly killed deer, claiming that warm blood had special benefits. We’re open to homeopathic beauty regimens, but seriously, you have to draw the line somewhere.

#6: Mikhail Gorbachev Is a Grammy Winner

As the final leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies paved the way for the end of Communism in Russia. For his efforts, Gorbachev received numerous honors and awards, including the Otto Hahn Peace Medal and the Nobel Peace Prize. He even received the first Ronald Reagan Freedom Award, something no one would’ve seen coming ten years earlier. But his most unusual recognition may’ve been the Grammy Award accorded to him in 2004. The category was Best Spoken Word Album for Children, and Gorbachev won for his work on a recording of “Peter and the Wolf.” Who else shared that Grammy with him? Fellow voice actor and former U.S. President... Bill Clinton.

#5: Kim Jong-il Abducted a Film Director

While his father was still on the throne, Kim Jong-il decided he would take it upon himself to shape North Korea’s film industry. How better to do that than by kidnapping one of South Korea’s most acclaimed directors and his ex-wife? Filmmaker Shin Sang-ok was imprisoned and “re-educated,” then forced to make films for Kim. The end results weren’t exactly masterpieces… although their knock-off of “Godzilla” sounds like fun. Sang-ok and his wife eventually escaped during a trip to a film festival and found asylum in the U.S. – as for Kim, he never did achieve his goal of elevating the country’s film industry.

#4: William Lyon Mackenzie King Enjoyed Really Long Distance Talks

Canada’s longest-serving prime minister is known for shepherding the country through the difficult years of World War II and for helping establish the country’s welfare system. Less well known is King’s fondness for spiritualism - séances in particular - as this information didn’t come out until after his death. Biographers indicate that Mackenzie King was rather cold and impersonal and that he had few good friends – at least among the living. The prime minister apparently utilized mediums to hold talks with departed friends and relatives, including his dear mother and his dogs. Among the oddest of his alleged otherworldly confidants was THE Leonardo da Vinci.

#3: Napoleon Penned a Steamy Romance Novel

Okay, it may not be steamy by modern standards, but we’re sure it would’ve snapped the stays on numerous corsets in its day. In 1795, Napoleon was not yet a world-renowned military leader - but he displayed knowledge of skirmishes of the heart. When he met Désirée Clary, his brother Joseph’s fiancée, he quickly made it apparent that his brother should clear out. Joseph did, into the nearby arms of Désirée’s sister. Enraptured, Napoleon wrote a thinly veiled account of his and Désirée’s romance, spicing it up with dollops of betrayal and death. But before the year was out, Napoleon had found someone new to replace Désirée. Unsurprisingly, this novella went unpublished in his lifetime.

#2: Saddam Hussein Used His Blood as Ink

Saddam Hussein shed a lot of blood, but by his own admission, little of it was his own. That’s why he undertook this interesting pet project. Over a period of about two years, he allegedly had some 50 or so pints of blood withdrawn from his own body. With this blood, Abbas Shakir Joudi, an expert in Islamic calligraphy, was charged with making a copy of the Qur’an – all 336 thousand words of it. The resulting “Blood Qur’an” was then put on official display. While a captivating story, there is significant doubt as to the veracity of the account. Donating 50 pints of blood in such a short period of time would leave a body seriously weakened.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Joseph Stalin Picked the Name Stalin, Which Means “Man of Steel”
- John Quincy Adams Liked to Skinny Dip
- Queen Elizabeth I Allegedly Invented the Gingerbread Man

#1: Abraham Lincoln Is in the Wrestling Hall of Fame

Maybe the Civil War would’ve ended more quickly had Honest Abe challenged Jefferson Davis to a wrestling match. It turns out that the 16th U.S. President was an enormously skilled wrestler. Some sources claim he participated in 300 matches, losing only once. Since exact records from the period are hard to come by, that may be an exaggeration. But nonetheless, the lanky leader’s skill was such that the National Wrestling Hall of Fame posthumously inducted him in 1992, labeling him an “Outstanding American.” Now if we could only get him in the ring with another legend like John Cena.
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