VLADIMIR Putin would “fight to the end” during school fights as a child, his former classmates and teachers claim.
The Russian tyrant was branded a “sneaky” and “troublemaker” by those who knew him in his youth, decades before he waged war in Ukraine.
According to his former friends, Putin would terrorize his school in the Dzerzhinsky district of Leningrad and “go into a frenzy” if anyone got into a fight with him.
His newly qualified teacher, Tamara Chizova, 26, said the “disorganized” youngster drove her to despair and would “definitely cause trouble”, reports The Times.
With a rebellious streak in him, his childhood best friend Viktor Borisenko recalled that Putin was the first to join a fight when it broke out.
He said: “He could get into a fight with anyone. He wasn’t afraid.
“It never occurred to him that the other boy was stronger and could hit him.
“If some big guy offended him, he would jump right at him, scratch him, bite him, pull clumps of his hair.
“He wasn’t the strongest in our class, but in a fight he could beat anyone because he would go into a frenzy and fight to the end.”
The Russian leader grew up in a dirty, cockroach-infested apartment, shared with two other families, with no heating or bathroom.
Rats also plagued the courtyard, and Putin often chased them with sticks, until one day a large one he had cornered attacked him.
He later said, “Nobody should be cornered. Nobody should be put in a situation where they have no way out.”
Despite this, Putin later said that he never felt “deprived or miserable” growing up.
After earning a bad reputation in elementary school, Putin moved on to high school at the age of 12 in 1965.
With that came a new form tutor, Vera Gurevich, who was tough but like the youngster for her excellent memory and speed.
Putin then learned sambo, a form of mixed martial arts, and his grades improved dramatically when he became a member of the Pioneers, the main organization of the Communist Party.
After giving up hopes of becoming an airline pilot, at age 16 he did some research to find out what it would take to join the KBG.
He was told to join the Leningrad State University Faculty of Law, which he finally did shortly before his 18th birthday in September 1970.
In 1975, Putin was accepted into the KBG as a junior lieutenant and spent years working his way up until 1990.
During this time, he met his first girlfriend, medical student Lyudmila Khmarina, who was loved by his parents.
But in 1980 they broke up, and Putin had eyes for another woman: 22-year-old Aeroflot flight attendant Lyudmila Shkrebneva.
However, he was not fooled and described Putin as “poorly dressed”.
Lyudmila recalled: “He looked very unattractive. I wouldn’t have paid attention to him on the street.”
Despite first impressions, the couple exchanged numbers and met every time Lyudmila was in Leningrad.
However, the relationship was tumultuous, as Putin’s parents did not approve of it and his traditional views on the role of women prevented him from doing so.
At a party the following year, Putin was furious as Lyudmila danced the night away.
She said: “Apparently I was too uninhibited. It became clear to me that any other relationship was impossible.”
After two weeks, they got back together, but Putin’s temper and faults continued.
She once recalled waiting for him at a subway station, The Times reports.
Lyudmila said: “Fifteen minutes, you can accept. Even half an hour.
“But when an hour has passed and he’s not there, you’re just crying from the pain.
“After an hour and a half, you don’t feel anything anymore. All your emotions were spent. This happened all the time.”
To make matters worse, Putin hid his KGB job from Lyudmila for 18 months, leading her to believe he was working for the police.
Despite her mistrust, Lyudmila married Putin in 1983 and described their year together as “total harmony.”
But his bad habits resurfaced, as he started coming home late from work.
She said: “I understood that it was not [his superiors] that kept him working late. it was himself.”
The couple eventually divorced in 2013 when Lyudmila became exhausted by Putin’s lifestyle and said she was “crushed” at not being able to talk to her friends about the problems she faced.