Stefanie von Berge. Photo: Marina Rosa Weigl

Boxing her way to the top: Stefanie von Berge on Cologne cafés, university and the Olympics

Training, taking part in international competitions and studying for a medicine degree - no problem for this Cologne athlete!

Stefanie von Berge is always on the move. In fact, sometimes the 23-year-old boxer spends more time travelling the globe than she does at home – even though she loves Cologne, especially the people and the vibe. “My sport means lots of competitions and training camps,” she tells us. “But I always try to enjoy the city to the maximum when I’m here.” One thing Stefanie particularly enjoys is Cologne’s cafes. “Many of them have their own unique atmosphere,” she says, “where you can get something nice to eat in a chilled environment.” Originally from nearby Düsseldorf, Stefanie also likes the wide variety of street food on offer in her new home of Cologne. But she doesn’t really get to spend that much time in chilled cafés. Her sporting success is something mere mortals can only dream of and there are probably very few people who could bring as much discipline and focus to the ring as she does.

For Cologne-based Stefanie, the harbour district is a good place to relax body and mind. Photo: Marina Rosa Weigl

Ambition runs in the family

After starting her boxing career by winning the German junior bantam championship at the age of 14 (she’d been granted special permission to compete), Stefanie brought home one medal after another. The high point so far was the light-welterweight gold medal she won at the 2022 European championship in Budva, which made her the first German adult to win a European boxing championship. It seems she’s got tenacity in her genes – her mother was a successful basketball player, her father was a boxer himself and now coaches the regional squad, including his daughter.

For me, boxing and the army go hand in hand.

Stefanie von Berge

Stefanie finances her fairytale career by working for the German army as a soldier athlete. “For me,” she says, “boxing and the army go hand in hand. Lots of sports professionals, footballers for instance, earn their money through sponsoring but there tend not to be any big sponsors for sports like judo, athletics or, as in my case, boxing. That’s why many of us work for the army as athletes.”

Next stop: the Olympics!

Having passed her school-leaving exams with flying colours, Stefanie is now also studying medicine at the University of Cologne. Whilst the mere thought of her workload would have many people in a sweat, the young athlete evidently doesn’t have a problem with it. “You just have to divide your time up properly and make clear decisions about what you’re going to concentrate on so you can get it all done,” she says. And goals are crucial too, obviously. Be they in the lecture theatre or the boxing ring. Says Stefanie, “I’ve always been really competitive and I’m very focused on my goals. And the next one is already clear: the 2024 Olympics!”

Looking ahead to her next goal – Stefanie’s focused on the 2024 Olympics. Photo: Marina Rosa Weigl

Germany’s never won an Olympic medal for women’s boxing. But perhaps Stefanie von Berge is about to change all that – with masses of grit, determination and creative clout. There won’t be a lot of time to hang out in Cologne while she’s busy preparing for the Olympics but there is one place you might bump into her: “I really like the harbour,” she tells us. “It’s just such a peaceful area, a good place to relax body and mind in the evening. You can walk up and down along the Rhine and admire the water and the architecture. It’s a great way to unwind.”

Whatever this boxer extraordinaire does next, there’s one thing she’s sure of at the moment: “Cologne is my city and I’m here to stay. It’s got everything I need: university, sport and work!”

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