When a frustrated Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando, On The Waterfront, 1954) groans, “I could have been a contender…”, Terick Salmaci must nod his head in sympathy.
Except that, thanks to reality TV, he was.
A contestant on the popular, Mark Burnett-produced series The Contender, Salmaci, then 32, made a huge splash on the NBC series in 2005, going down to an arguable decision against a much-younger Juan "El Gallo Negro" de la Rosa in episode seven of the first season. Though gracious in defeat, plenty of viewers felt that Salmaci should have won the fight.
These days, Salmaci has traded his boxing gloves for a real estate license, where, armed with a BA from the University of Michigan, he runs his own American Realty Group in Dearborn. Though anything but stress-free, selling real estate is less taxing on the body than pro fighting, which must be a source of relief to his beautiful wife Dena and five-year-old daughter Ava, whose photos indicated that she’s inherited the best genes from Italian American Dena and Lebanese American Tarick.
To Salmaci, real estate brokering may be a college-earned talent, but boxing comes naturally. The son and grandson of pro fighters, he started boxing at the age of eight at Dearborn recreations centers. As a middle weight, he racked up an impressive 20-1 record, and was once ranked fourth in the world by the WBO. Prior to that, he Tarick was an Olympic Trials finalist, and as a pro he won the NABO (North American Boxing Organization) Middleweight Championship.
Still, like Marlon Brando’s character, he missed out on a title shot due to management and promoter guarantees that failed to materialized. Such broken promises disillusioned the self-styled ‘Arabian Prince’, to whom loyalty, integrity and honesty rank high in human qualities.
He displays all three in his longstanding relationship with his family, both immediate and extended. Always ready to credit his upbringing in South Dearborn, where his parents struggled to see him succeed, he is equally devoted to his wife, who has stuck by him through the frequent ups and downs of his many-faceted career path.
Now on an upwardly-mobile track, Visionalist is proud to include Tarick Salmaci in ‘Our Arab American Story’ as an example of dedication and principled sincerity in a couple of tough professions. In our book, he’s not a contender, but a champ.