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Oleg Taktarov (1967)

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  Summary  

Oleg Nikolaevich Taktarov is a retired Russian mixed martial artist and actor. He is a practitioner of Sambo and Judo and has competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Pride Fighting Championships. Taktarov was the UFC 6 tournament champion and holds notable wins over Marco Ruas and David "Tank" Abbott. Taktarov is known for being exceptionally calm during fights and for using a variety of rarely seen, acrobatic Sambo take-downs. All of Taktarov's losses were by knockout or decision, Taktarov was never submitted in an MMA fight.

  Biography  

 early life
Taktarov was born in the closed city Arzamas-16 , USSR, before his family moved to Gorky, an industrial centre of Russia. Oleg’s father, a construction worker, wanted his son to become involved in sport, and so took him to a gymnasium at the nearby city of Sarov, with the intention of enrolling Oleg in ice hockey or weightlifting. But the twelve-year-old Taktarov had other ideas after observing athletes practicing judo. At first it appeared his father would have his way because the Sarov judo division had a policy of not accepting people from outside their city, but the instructor was impressed by the bright and well-mannered Oleg, and took him under his wing. "I liked judo and stuck with it. Then I found that there were similarities between judo and sambo (Russian unarmed self-defense system), and as Sarov was the only Sambo gymnasium specializing in leg locks, I decided to compete in both styles," says Taktarov.

Surprisingly, the intelligent and soft-spoken Oleg intended becoming a scientist. He hadn’t planned to make a career of grappling. But in the former Soviet Union it was mandatory for all male youths to serve a minimum of two years in the military. Prior to entering the army, Taktarov competed against two men - one, his training partner - for a place in the military’s sporting division. During the last bout, his adversary applied an ankle lock to Oleg. "He had a good lock on my ankle, and I heard the ligaments pop, but I couldn’t submit because the competition was too important to me. There were two other guys in my weight category and only one position in the army’s sport division, so I had to win. I threw him and he fell on his head and couldn’t continue," says Taktarov. Oleg went on to serve his time as a self-defense instructor, which included training an elite sector of the KGB in unarmed combat and counter-intelligence for three years. During this period Oleg suffered severe stomach pains and reported to his superior officer. The officer ignored Oleg’s plea for medical attention and ordered him back on duty. "He was the kind of guy who shouldn’t have been there," understates a cool Taktarov. The young soldier decided to go AWOL and travelled to a nearby hospital where a doctor successfully removed Oleg’s appendix, informing his patient that he would have died if he’d waited another fifteen minutes.

After completing his national service, Oleg traveled with another martial artist to the republic of Latvia for a no-rules tournament. "My friend and I were at a car yard and he was going to buy a car. The Latvian special police didn’t like us because we were speaking Russian, and decided to throw us in gaol. But some of the organizers were looking for us, and luckily they found us, so we were released fifteen minutes before the competition started, which meant we had no time to warm up." Fortunately this did not stop Taktarov from becoming the tournament champion. Four times Oleg won the European and Asian jiu-jitsu Championships, and twice won the World Sambo Championships.

"At the age of twenty-six I was undefeated and had won everything I could at the time. So I traveled to the United States with the intention of becoming an actor, but I found that it wasn’t easy to get started in the movies, so I decided to fight because I had to think about an income and improving my English." Oleg also commenced working in theaters to improve his acting skills.

 acting career
After temporarily retiring from mixed martial arts, Taktarov focused on his acting career, and starred in the movies 15 Minutes, Bad Boys II, 44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out, Air Force One, and the 2002 version of Rollerball. He also appeared in the first episode of season 3 of Alias entitled The Two and in the NCIS season 5 finale Judgement Day. He has also appeared in a few Russian productions, and was cast in a few releases from 2007, such as We Own the Night. Taktarov also released several instructional Sambo videos and has made an instructional video with Vladimir Vasiliev entitled Russian Mega Fighting. More recently, Taktarov fought an exhibition boxing match on Russian Celebrity Boxing against fellow actor and martial artist Dolph Lundgren. Taktarov more recently starred in Robert Rodriguez's franchise reboot, Predators, directed by Nimród Antal.

 Filmography

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Oleg Taktarov", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.