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Tuesday, December 22, 1998 Published at 15:15 GMT


March: Jane Couch



Review of the Year
In March, Jane Couch, the women's world welterweight boxing champion won her claim for sexual discrimination against the British Boxing Board of Control, over its refusal to grant her a licence to box professionally in the UK. She went on to win her first professional fight in Britain.

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I've been fighting professionally for four years in America so it was just a natural progression to be able to do it in my own country. I work hard as a professional boxer and it is just nice to get the opportunity to do it here.

It's not more dangerous - that's why I went through a six-month long court case and proved that it isn't more dangerous. If it was I wouldn't be in the sport.

Women have my example to aim for and me to set the standard. The boxing criteria of the Boxing Board is very, very strict.

They have a very strict medical and standard. If women cannot meet it, they will not get a professional licence. If they meet the standard and pass the medical then they have my full support - I say go ahead and box. That is what it is all about.

Public support

Before the fight I got tremendous support from the public and from the media too. The media tends to write things and say things without having spoken to you.

But it is difficult when people write things when they do not really understand what you do or what the sport is all about.

They just expect you be some crazy woman who gets in the ring and fights. It's not like that. It was hard work for me, my family and the people who supported and helped me but we have seen it through and now it is a positive attitude that I am getting back from people.

I'll be out shopping and old ladies come up to me saying: 'Go for it girl! Can I have your autograph?' They are really pleased and proud of me.

Gobsmacked

No I didn't feel under any pressure. I've boxed on all the big shows in America and there is a lot of pressure out there. You get a lot of media attention in the States so I didn't feel more pressure really to win here. I didn't feel pressure like that - you can't do when you are a fighter.

The women do get behind you but it is usually the men who are quite gobsmacked at what you do who give you the greatest support. They are a bit apprehensive at first then they are brilliant and all for you.

I got a good luck letter form Angelo Dundee - the trainer of Mohammed Ali - and a pair of shorts. So if I can command the respect of these sort of people that is all that matters to me.

A 'wicked' year

I'm definitely not one in a million. We've got 18,000 girls in the US who are a very, very good standard and we have a couple of girls in the gym. If you can put in the time and the dedication you can do it.

There is even one woman who is a heart surgeon in Mexico who, after she's finished putting people up and putting new hearts in them, is in the ring boxing and she is a world champion at bantum weight. Then we've got a lawyer from New York - very intelligent and well-educated again - and she's a world champion at featherweight.

My manager and coach Tex have been outstanding this year and backed me all the way, being there for me when nobody else was.

Also Angelo Dundee has been a major influence in my life and then my family - particularly my mum. She's had it hard and had to bring two kids up on her own - one of which is now extremely famous and good-looking!!

My year in a word has been wicked. I think I will carry on boxing for ever but obviously I am getting older, so maybe another two or three years. When I stop feeling good - then I'll stop fighting.
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In this section

January: Scott Ritter

February: Touched by an angel

March: Jane Couch

April: Gitta Sereny

May (1): People of Northern Ireland

May (2): Mo Mowlam

June: The England-Argentina referee

July: Gill Samuels, Viagra creator

August: David Shayler

September: Neville Lawrence

October: Ann Widdecombe

November: Sally Becker

December: Deborah Hickey