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Friday, August 14, 1998 Published at 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK


Women boxers win UK licence

Jane Couch: Planning to fight in September

Boxing's governing body in the UK is to set up a licensing scheme for women in the wake of losing a sex discrimination case.

Jane Couch: "I'm well chuffed"
Jane Couch, who won the landmark case against the British Board of Boxing Control, has been named the sport's first licensed woman in the UK and awarded £15,000 compensation.

The fighter dubbed the "Fleetwood Assasin" said she is planning her first UK bout next month, followed by a defence of her world welterweight title in the US in October.

Earlier in the year the 30-year-old took the BBBC to court after they refused to allow her to enter the ring on home turf.

The body alleged that women were physically too frail to box.

[ image: Internet fans: Highly regarded by fellow fighters]
Internet fans: Highly regarded by fellow fighters
But her solicitor Sara Leslie said: "Jane has achieved her goal.

"She has not just redressed the injustice that she faced as a professional athlete, but she has paved the way for other sportswomen in Britain."

John Morris, general secretary of the BBBC, said the board had adapted its regulations to provide for women boxing in the light of the tribunal decision.

He said: "Jane is now a fully licensed boxer under our regulations and the case is completely settled."

Court battle

Jane Couch, who previously worked in a candy rock factory and a scrapyard, turned to boxing after watching a documentary about women boxers in the US and thinking that she could "fill in" both of the competitors.

[ image: Champion: Now planning title defence]
Champion: Now planning title defence
She won the support of sceptical male fighters who let her join them for training sessions and won her first boxing bout in Wigan against a female policewoman.

The former coach of heavyweights Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis, "Tex" Woodward, took her under his wing for her professional world title bout - fought in front of 3,000 people in Copenhagen.

But last year Couch was forced to turn down a £10,000 purse to fight at London's Wembley Arena after the BBBC refused her a licence.

During the sex discrimination case, supported by the Equal Opportunities Commmission, her lawyers accused the boxing authorities of attempting to protect "the last bastion" of male only sports.

She now intends to become the undisputed world champion by unifying the titles.

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