Tin Jelinek

- A Viking in Sport and Life

Tin Jelinek is a professional kickboxer, a successful businessman, and the owner of a kickboxing club in Croatia’s capital. This young man captivates with his focus, evident from the first encounter. He trains young athletes to take punches, supports 35 families through his employees, and has been working since he was 15. By the age of 19, he owned a thriving merchandising company.

Entering the world of kickboxing at an age considered ‘old’ for the sport, no one believed he could succeed. No one except himself. His provocative and non-mainstream views on life add an extra layer of intrigue to his character.

In this brutally honest interview, Tin reveals how he stays at the top of his game, deals with setbacks, and shares his thoughts on the status of women, their advantages and disadvantages compared to men. We also discuss depression, burnout, and how to handle bullying in schools – an interview you’ll devour in one sitting!

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I started my private business at 19, in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis. My perception was if we survive this, we can survive anything. From 2008 to 2017, businesses that made it through faced another challenge with the pandemic two years later. It was really turbulent. I don’t know any market where so many trading chains emerged and shut down (editor’s note: merchandising services).

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35 employees. We built slowly with our own funds, taking steps forward and backward. One piece of advice, even though I don’t like giving them – always leave room to take a step back. Just like in the ring. The ability to step back in business is worth more than the ability to step forward. If you reach a point where you need to step back but have no room to maneuver, it’s the end.

3

I draw a parallel with kickboxing, which everyone can easily translate to business life. Leaving room for a step back means avoiding being pressed against the ropes. If you’re pressed against the ropes, you’re in a defensive position. Your mobility is limited, and your opponent can easily predict your moves. It also drains energy and creates pressure. You lose the rhythm of the fight because limited space reduces your efficiency and ability to surprise your opponent. This negatively affects your psyche because you lose control. So, you always need to be able to step back because then you can redirect the fight towards the center of the ring, where you have more options for attack and defense. The same applies to everything else; never put yourself in a position where you are repeating an exam for the third time or looking for a new job without at least having an idea or a concrete Plan B.

4

Honestly, I don’t prepare. No one enters the ring without nerves, without jitters, fear, or a night before the fight where you fall asleep easily like any other day. It doesn’t exist. Besides, I knew top fighters who didn’t sleep for three or four days before a fight, even those with 50 or 60 fights. On the other hand, there are rare ones who sleep like bears before a fight, get up in the morning, have a coffee, and head into the ring…

5

I had a two-year break, and when I last went to fight, even though it was a B-category competition, it felt like I was entering the ring for the first time.

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No, just nervousness the night before, like I’m heading to slaughter. They told me I had a beginner, a ‘punching bag.’ I thought, okay, then half an hour passed, I warmed up, jumped rope, and my coach came and said my opponent changed – I now had the Croatian K1 champion.

7

Nothing, I’m the type who thinks an hour before the fight that I can’t do anything, sweating, but once I get into the ring, it’s great. I visualize putting on the gear, my coach doing the final checks, greeting the referees, taking a few breaths in the corner. The referee calls me. The nerves are still there until the first three punches land. Once the first three punches land, I enjoy