World leaders are often regarded as celebrities (or tyrants, depending on who you’re talking about), but we tend to forget that they were all once young adults just like the rest of us. Most of them weren’t born into the roles they worked so hard to achieve, even though it may seem like they were destined for greatness from the start.

Before they took on prominent positions in the public eye, these men and women likely had aspirations to achieve what may have felt impossible at the time. Taking a glimpse into the lives of those who would one day became unforgettable historical figures reveals a side to them that’s very different from their public personas.

These 17 images of world leaders years before they ever stepped onto the global stage are riveting—and they may have you rethinking history a little more than you’d expect!

1. Mahatma Gandhi: Gandhi was known around the world for spreading a peaceful message to everyone. He led the Indian independence movement and was the inspiration for many civil rights movements for years after he passed away.

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2. Adolf Hitler: Hitler was a German politician who became infamous after taking control of the Nazi party in Germany. While his cruelty might have far exceeded any the world had seen before, this image of a young Hitler makes him appear as average as any other man his age.

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3. John F. Kennedy: Kennedy was one of the most beloved presidents the country ever had. He was the 35th President of the United States, and much of his term was spent establishing relations with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He was tragically assassinated in 1963, but his legacy lives on.

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4. Richard Nixon: Nixon was the 37th President of the United States and the only one to ever leave office because of a public scandal. After Watergate, the public lost a lot of faith in him, and he was forced to resign. Decades before, however, he was just a regular boy in gym class.

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5. Nelson Mandela: Mandela served as president of South Africa for five years from 1994 to 1999. He was an anti-apartheid revolutionary who made great strides toward peace. When you think of world leaders that have had a dramatic impact on human rights, Mandela always comes to mind.

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6. Donald Trump: This reality television star-turned-President is a very polarizing figure. Some people love what he’s doing for the United States, and others think he’s leading the country to ruin. No matter what your opinion is, you can’t deny that young Trump is a world away from the figure we see in the news today.

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7. Hillary Clinton: Hillary Clinton has built up quite the résumé since she started off as an American politician many years ago. She was the first woman to be elected to the New York Senate, and she came close to becoming the first female President of the United States in the 2016 election (she lost to the aforementioned Donald Trump).

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8. George W. Bush: Bush was the governor of Texas for five years from 1995 to 2000. He was then elected President of the United States, a title he held for two consecutive terms from 2001 to 2009. His father, George H.W. Bush, was also the president at one time, so politics runs in his blood. Still, there was a time long ago when his extracurricular activities at Yale were more important than his political aspirations!

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9. Vladimir Putin: Putin is the current President of Russia, a title he’s had twice since 2000. He is known as one of the most powerful world leaders alive today, although you’d never guess any of that was in the cards for the boy pictured below.

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10. Barack Obama: Obama is the first black person ever to be elected President of the United States. When he won the election, it was a huge triumph for African Americans everywhere. This picture was taken years before he even thought about making his mark on the world.

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11. Bill Clinton: Husband to Hillary Clinton, Bill was the President of the United States for two terms. He was impeached after a highly publicized scandal rocked the White House in 1998, but he was acquitted by the United States Senate and allowed to finish his term in office.

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12. Bashar al-Assad: Assad is currently the 19th President of Syria. The United Nations accused Assad of war crimes that happened during the Syrian Civil War, which he staunchly denied. He openly criticizes the Unites States for their current presence in his country.

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13. Margaret Thatcher: Nicknamed The Iron Lady because of her uncompromising leadership style, Thatcher was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century and the very first woman to have even held that title. She enforced stern policies which eventually became known as Thatcherisms.

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14. Princess Elizabeth: This is Elizabeth II during World War II before she became the Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, a title that she’s held since 1952. She oversees more than 600 charities and organizations, and she’s admired by people all over the world.

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15. Joseph Stalin: Stalin was a Soviet revolutionary, politician, and political theorist who governed the Soviet Union for several decades prior to his death in 1953. Stalin is considered one of the most influential people to have ever lived, but he also faces very harsh criticism for causing millions of innocent deaths due to the political and ethnic repressions he supported.

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16. King Salman: King Salman currently reigns over Saudi Arabia. Although many of his methods of rule are questioned for being immoral, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Al-Turath Charity Foundation in the field of urban heritage in 2013.

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17. Saddam Hussein: Hussein served as the fifth President of Iraq, and he was a merciless dictator. In 2006, he was convicted of crimes against humanity related to the slaughter of 148 Iraqi Shi’ites, and he was hanged shortly after. You’d never guess the young man in this photo would meet such an end.

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It’s always fascinating to look at pictures of people before they achieved celebrity status. They may not have known how influential they were going to be, but the marks they left on the world are undeniable.

Share these rare photos with your friends below!