The All Things Croatia podcast recently chatted with 17-year-old Croatian boxer Mariela Šteko.
Mariela won the gold medal at the 2023 Junior European Boxing Championships having now been twice named the junior European champion. She also has started modeling in Germany.
Mariela was born in Munich to Croatian parents from Tomislavgrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She lives in Munich with her parents, two younger sisters who also box, and trains under her father, who was a world champion kickboxer himself.
Mariela started out competing for Germany in kickboxing before switching to boxing and deciding to represent Croatia instead, following in her father’s footsteps.
At the recent European Boxing Championships, Mariela faced tough competition, including former champions who had moved up to her weight class.
She mentioned her final fight against a Polish opponent as particularly challenging. After losing the first round, she had to win the next two rounds to take the fight, which she managed to do after regrouping with her coach and changing her strategy.
As Mariela said, “I was really under pressure. Yeah, exactly, because you always know with every move matters. So every second, because in the end, this move can decide whether you win.”
While Mariela enjoys boxing and finds it creative, she doesn’t approach fights with aggression but prefers a defensive style. She looks up to technical boxers like Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather, trying to emulate them in her own bouts. One highlight she mentioned is standing on the podium hearing the Croatian national anthem after winning a competition: “I really get chills all over my body. It’s just such a nice moment.”
Outside of boxing, Mariela enjoys modeling and playing piano. She’s in her last year of high school and plans to study law after graduating. Each summer, her family visits Croatia to connect with their roots.
Steko is proud to represent Croatia in boxing, which she sees as bringing the Croatian community together:
“It’s just certain feeling that you have this being part of this community, just being proud to be Croatian.”
She has her sights set on the World Boxing Championships being held in Croatia in November 2024 for her next major competition.
Watch the full podcast with Mariela below.