Biography of Oleg Taktarov
Oleg Taktarov is an outstanding mixed martial arts fighter, the first Russian UFC champion, “Russian Bear”, as they call him across the ocean. With the help of his fists, he made his way to Hollywood and fulfilled his old dream – to become a film actor and act in films with world-famous stars.
In the photo: Oleg Taktarov
Childhood and youth
The future champion was born and raised in the closed city of Arzamas-16 (now Sarov), in the family of a military man. His father, a Mari by nationality, was by nature a strong and hardy man, had a boxing rank, played football and hockey in the garrison team.
Oleg Taktarov with his parents
Nikolai Mikhailovich tried to introduce his son to sports, but Oleg was a home child in early childhood and preferred reading to outdoor games. He adored adventure literature and travel stories, read the novels of Jules Verne and dreamed of traveling the whole world.
The boy did not like to walk in the yard also because he had speech problems and the boys teased him. Noticing this, his father took Oleg to the sambo and judo section so that the boy could learn to stand up for himself. After the very first lessons, it turned out that Oleg has not only excellent physical data, but also a strong character, which is important for a real fighter. Under the guidance of his first coach Vitaly Mikhailov, Oleg quickly achieved excellent results and soon became one of the best athletes in the section.
Oleg Taktarov in childhood
Despite this, Taktarov did not think about professional sports and for a long time was going to be a nuclear physicist. His grandfather worked all his life as a senior laboratory assistant for Sakharov and Kocharyants and dreamed that his grandson would also become an outstanding scientist.
In high school, Oleg attended optional classes in physics, where schoolchildren successfully solved problems from the MEPhI second-year student training program. But Taktarov did not immediately enter the institute – first he studied for three years at the GPTU, then he served in the army (from 1985 to 1987, the air defense forces in the Vladimir region) and only after that he became a student at the Nizhny Novgorod Polytechnic Institute.
Oleg Taktarov in the army
Having received a diploma in the specialty “Electrical Engineer on long-distance ships”, Oleg put it aside and went into private business. Even during his studies, he woke up a commercial vein, besides, he early acquired a family that needed to be fed.
At twenty-two, Oleg organized a private company, which began to bring him serious income. With the proceeds, he bought and then resold real estate, and soon became a very wealthy person. In his interviews, Taktarov said that he kept money in bags in the closet, sometimes without even knowing the exact amount.
Having achieved financial independence, Taktarov decided to change the field of activity – he became bored in business. In sports, he also already reached a certain ceiling, so he decided to try his hand at cinema, and not in Russian, but immediately in Hollywood.
In 1994, he left his family and established business in Nizhny Novgorod, bought a plane ticket and flew to the United States. He did not expect to stay in America for a long time, but fate made adjustments to his plans. The movie turned out to be much more difficult than it seemed, therefore, in order to earn a living, he decided to participate in fights without rules.
Taktarov already had experience in this kind of competition – in 1993 Oleg won the White Dragon international tournament, which was held in Riga. He collected video tapes of his fights and went to the office of the UFC, a sports organization that was engaged in holding mixed martial arts competitions.
Oleg Taktarov in the ring
Fights without rules were popular in themselves, and Taktarov was also a fighter from the post-Soviet space – exotic. They signed a contract with him, and he started training. Oleg chose sambo, in which he had the title of master of sports of the USSR. The athlete also mastered the techniques of jiu-jitsu, and eventually mastered other types of martial arts.
Oleg Taktarov in his youth
Under the pseudonym “Russian Bear” he had 24 fights, of which he lost only five. The victory in the fight with David “Tank” Abbott brought Taktarov the champion title, and in 2003 the Russian athlete entered the top ten fighters in UFC history.
Oleg participated in the Vale-tudo, Martial Arts Reality Superfighting (MARS), BodogFIGHT: USA vs. Russia”, performed in the show “Pride Fighting Championships”. A successful sports career opened the doors to the treasured world of cinema for him, and in 1997 Taktarov appeared on the big screen.
Taktarov’s film debut was the role of Russian agent Boris Chekhnev in the science fiction film Total Power (1996). This was followed by small episodes in the series “Military Investigators”, the thriller “President’s Plane”, the action movie “Urgent Dive – 2”. And in the second part of “Total Power” his staff became one of the key ones.
Oleg Taktarov on the poster of the second part of “Total Force”
At first, Oleg got the images of bad Russians, but after he studied at the Playhouse West theater academy and got rid of his accent, they began to trust him with more serious roles. In the crime drama 15 Minutes of Glory starring Robert de Niro, he played the characteristic character Oleg Razgul, who pursues the main character with his accomplice.
Oleg Taktarov on the set of the film “15 minutes of fame”
In 2004, Oleg starred in the large-scale adventure thriller National Treasures and coped with his role in such a way that he overshadowed the main character played by Nicolas Cage. Because of this on-screen character, Taktarov (and other anti-heroes) were almost completely cut out of the film.
Frame from the film “National Treasure”
Oleg was offended and decided to leave Hollywood, especially since he increasingly began to receive interesting offers from Russia. His acting talent can be appreciated in the oligarch saga “Waper Hunt”, the crime drama by Sergei Bodrov Sr. “Let’s Do It Quickly”, the phantasmagoria “Generation P”, the comedy “Ticket to Vegas”, the action movie “The Maltese Cross” and even in the film adaptation of Gogol’s Viy.
Shot from the film “The Ex-Wife”
At the moment, Taktarov’s filmography includes more than sixty works. Oleg carefully selects roles for himself – for example, in 2017 he turned down the offer of a famous Hollywood director who wanted to see him as a pro-Russian separatist punisher who kills people in the Donbass.
Participation in TV projects
Taktarov first appeared on Russian television in 2007 – as part of the sports show “King of the Ring” he fought with American action movie star Dolph Lundgren. The duel was indicative, although it was held according to all the rules of the TV show – five rounds of one and a half minutes with two-minute breaks between them. The fight was commented by Kirill Nabutov and Alla Pugacheva, the Russian Bear won on points.
By the way, Taktarov also tried himself as a sports commentator, but quickly abandoned this idea. He was used to being in the center of events, and it was not in his nature to remain just a voice-over.
In 2009, with the direct participation of Taktarov, the Russian reality show “Men’s Games” was released, in which ten people who have lost their life orientation get the opportunity to change and start from scratch. Taktarov is very proud of this project, thanks to which he was able to help real people find their place in life.
In 2011-12 Oleg participated in the military-patriotic show “Special Assignment”, where they, together with the singer Vera Brezhneva, played the role of “secret agents”. Their task was to put constant psychological pressure on the recruits in order to prevent them from carrying out the received order.
Taktarov and Brezhnev in the project “Special Task”
In 2014, the athlete as part of the Above the Rainbow team fought for victory in the TV show Big Races. Together with him, the honor of Russia was defended by Dmitry Koldun, Alexander Lysenkov and Denis Dorokhov.
Personal life of Oleg Taktarov
Oleg met his first wife Milena after returning from the army. They got married, the son of Seryozha was born. To provide for his wife and child, Taktarov organized his own business and, as uznayvse.ru wrote above, achieved his first successes.
With first wife Milena
But a trip to America put an end to a happy family life – Oleg stayed in the States much longer than he expected, and at that time Milena had a new friend, Alphonse, who “helped” her spend the money left by her husband. Taktarov forgave his wife for treason and even paid for the complex operation that the woman needed a few years later. This noble act was appreciated by the son of the athlete, who by that time had already grown up and learned to prioritize.
Oleg Taktarov with his sons
In a foreign land, Oleg met a new love – an American Kathleen. The woman was an experienced psychologist, ran a maximum security men’s prison, and certainly knew how to approach harsh men. They lived together for several years, but never officially signed, even when baby Keaton was born. The difference in mentality prevented them from building a strong union, although Oleg was very attached to the child and dreamed of raising a real athlete out of him.
Oleg Taktarov and Kathleen, his second wife
After breaking up with Kathleen, Taktarov met his countrywoman Maria, who, like him, lived and worked in America. But the girl had problems with extending her visa, and Oleg was just about to return to Russia, so he, without thinking twice, called Maria with him.
Oleg and Maria Taktarov
They got married in Russia, their son Nikita was born, whom Taktarov considers the most talented among his children. The boy studies well, draws well, attends various circles and plans to become a dentist. The eldest son graduated from drama school and works as an organizer of weddings, corporate parties and children’s parties, and the middle son plays American football and even got into the star league of his district.
Oleg Taktarov now
The athlete lives in his native Sarov, which he considers his place of power. Since 2011, as an adviser to the head of the Nizhny Novgorod administration, he has been in charge of issues in the field of sports development. In 2012, Taktarov, together with a group of like-minded people, founded the All-Russian Sports Federation of Mixed Martial Arts, which he headed until 2016. Recently, he has been organizing children’s sports schools, travels around the country with lectures and considers this his important life mission.
Oleg is still actively acting in films, he played Voyevoda in the sensational children’s film The Little Humpbacked Horse. In the spring of 2023, Ukrainian viewers were able to appreciate the actor’s new work in the multi-part melodrama “Someone else’s sins”, and by the fall, two more series with Taktarov’s participation (“Magistral” and “Survivors”) will appear on Russian screens.
On the set of the film “The Little Humpbacked Horse”
Interesting facts and scandals
Taktarov is known for his quick temper and scandalous statements. He twice arranged fights with pogroms in the Sarov restaurant “Fellini”, for which he was blacklisted as guests of this institution.
After the fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and American Justin Geydzhi, Oleg spoke unflatteringly about the hype that arose around the victory of the Dagestan fighter. Taktarov was outraged that Khabib was called the first Russian UFC champion, while this title rightfully belongs only to him.
Nurmagomedov’s entourage objected that back in 1995, the competitions were held according to completely different regulations, and much has changed since then. Fedor Emelianenko intervened in the dispute, who stood up for the Caucasians, and in a rather insulting form for Oleg. In a heated skirmish on social networks, Fedor recalled that in 2018 Taktarov visited Khabib at home, ate his bread, and now pours mud on the fighter.
This scandal did not have time to subside, when the next one began – Emelianenko accused Taktarov of illegally holding the “Championship and Championship of the MMA Federation of Russia” in Lyubertsy, where children of primary school age competed. The case reached the prosecutor’s office, and it turned out that there were no violations and the students performed according to an individual program, without using dangerous blows.
- 1990 – became a master of sports in sambo
- 1993 – won his first tournament in fighting without rules “White Dragon”
- 1994 – moving to the USA
- 1995 – victory in the final of the UFC tournament
- 1997 – debut in cinema
- 2008 – retirement from professional sports and return to Russia