Slavko Podgorelec originated and initiated the foundation of the Croatian Olympic Committee; he was the first COC Secretary General and ex officio member of its highest executive body, the COC Council, from 1991 to 2000.
He holds a Masters degree in Economics and before becoming COC Secretary General, he was the first Manager of the Croatian Sports Fund. Apart from being one of the initiators of the foundation of the COC and its international recognition and admission to the Olympic family, Slavko Podgorelec also significantly contributed to the preparation of the first two Sports Acts in the independent and sovereign Republic of Croatia (1992 and 1997), which set the foundations for democratic development of Croatian sport.
Slavko Podgorelec was born in Zagreb on 4 September 1934. In his youth, he practiced gymnastics, weightlifting and wrestling. He achieved the most success as a weightlifter and wrestler. He was Croatian champion in both sports from 1951 to 1957. An experienced athlete with comprehensive knowledge, a wrestling coach and instructor, after finishing his career as an athlete, he became President of the Croatian Wrestling Association for two terms, from 1972 to 1980. He also served two terms as President of the former Yugoslav Wrestling Association from 1977 to 1985. For his outstanding contribution to the development of wrestling at the international level, among other honours, Slavko Podgorelec was awarded the FILA Gold Star by the International Wrestling Federation in 1973.
For his significant contribution to the development of the Olympic idea in Croatia and the unity of the Olympic Movement in the world, Slavko Podgorelec received the IOC Olympic Movement Unity Trophy in 1995.
For furthering sport and the Olympic idea, the Republic of Croatia awarded the highest honour, the Franjo Bucar National Sports Award, to Slavko Podgorelec in 2001.