Promoter, fighter, actor – Tarik Solak
Born in Ankara and migrating to Australia in 1969 as a 5 year old, Tarik Solak grew up in the Brunswick, Melbourne, with Turkish immigrant parents and a large family.
The code was that street gangs were in control, fights were customary and Turkish kids had to stick together. There was racism, they didn’t fit anywhere. With almost no education opportunities provided, very few Turkish teens who grew up in this area managed to get out successfully. Most shifted into assembly plants, got married and had children. Others fell into prison or drug addiction.
The unmerciful life in Brunswick motivated Tarik to keep striving. For self-protection, Tarik started practicing very early with the Taekwondo (an Olympic discipline). After four years of practice he obtained his black belt. Then he discovered the Kick-boxing in the 80ies, rapidly, he decided to promote this discipline through events and gatherings.
He organized his first event in the former Night-club of Billboard, to which more than 1700 persons attended. His concept opposes Australian fighters against Turkish fighters, such as: Tibet Hamza, Gerald Ilhan, Recep Saka and Gurkan Ozkan. In 1994, Solak became the first promoter to organize a real show at the Melbourne Festival. An audience of 4000 watched Gurkan Ozkan and Tibet Hamza pick up their first world titles in Kick-boxing.
In 1999, Tarik met Graham Burke in Japan with the K-1 master Ishii and his manager Ken Imai. These men, very important in their industries, signed an agreement: Tarik Solak was to be in charge of the organization of the K-1 tournament in Oceania. On the same year, a new fists and feet boxing star appeared: Mark Hunt. One year later, the Greek Mike Zambidis became a K-1 star. Mark Hunt won in 2001, and also 2002.
Having organized several events in 90s and 2000s, Tarik became the biggest promoter in Oceania region as well as being a worldwide promoter organizing tournaments with big names around the globe. The shows feature lightly dressed dancers, and superfighters from various parts of the world (even Mongolia or Senegal.) He has negotiated the broadcasting rights with heavy-weight TV channels, such as Pay TV and Fox sport.
Tarik Solak is not only a businessman; sharing his passion with others is what he really wants. In 2006, Tarik Solak moved to Turkey to shoot a TV-Series with Turkish cinema legend Osman Sinav who has directed legendary TV Series such as Deli Yurek and Kurtlar Vadisi. The new show’s name was “Pusat” (meaning “Armor” in Turkish) featuring Turkish-German actor Haluk Piyes as a young boxer from the traditional Anatolian city of Sivas, battling his way in life with his beloved ones and young boxer friends through match-fixing mafia, corrupted sports organizers. Tarik Solak starred as “Arif”, a boxing trainer with a big heart who retired from the mafia life. The TV series became a phenomenon, as the actors were very natural, thanks to Tarik’s kickboxing resume and outstanding performance of Haluk Piyes who for the same reason as Tarik had trained to be a boxer in his teenage years and even became the German U19 champion before becoming an actor.
Tarik recently organised a Docklands kickboxing tournament with controversial Australian businessman Mick Gatto.
Tarik Solak passed away at the young age of 56, after battling cancer. He has left behind a legacy.