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Wednesday, November 25, 1998 Published at 23:00 GMT


Women's boxing makes instant impact

Jane Couch lands a bone-crunching punch on Simona Lukic

Britain's first professional bout between women boxers lasted just over three minutes as the UK's Jane Couch blasted out her teenage opponent.

Neil Bennett reports from south London on a historic night for British boxing
Referee Richie Davies came to the rescue of Simona Lukic when he stopped the fight - which was scheduled for six two-minute rounds - halfway through the second round.

Couch, the Women's International Boxing Federation (WIBF) welterweight champion, destroyed Lukic in a non-title bout at Caesars nightclub in Streatham, south London.

The Fleetwood Assassin, as she is known, was ironically congratulated afterwards by John Morris, secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC). Earlier this year she took the BBBC to an industrial tribunal, which found that they had sexually discriminated against her.

[ image: Referee Richie Davies holds Jane Couch's hand aloft]
Referee Richie Davies holds Jane Couch's hand aloft
More than 1,500 people crowded into the venue and the ring was surrounded by a plethora of journalists, photographers and television crews.

Vicious punches

The action was fast and furious and the referee was quick to act when Lukic, an economic student from Frankfurt, failed to answer a merciless barrage of punches.

The Yugoslav was led back to her corner, where she underwent several minutes of treatment from the ring doctor.

Neil Bennett at ringside: "As a fight, it was a complete mismatch"
Sports correspondent Neil Bennett said: "As a fight, it was a complete non-event, a mismatch.

"If Lukic had been a man she might have had her purse withheld."

Couch, 29, said afterwards: "I was a bit nervous but when I got in the ring I felt great."

Mr Morris said: "It's an historic night for British boxing. But I haven't the foggiest about where women's boxing goes from here.

"Girls now have the opportunity to take up sport but if they think they can go into a gym straight from the street and try to make a few bob by becoming professional without being amateurs first, we would look into that seriously."

Male promoters not keen to get involved

Despite the success of Wednesday's fight promoters in the UK are not queuing up to showcase Couch's skills.

Frank Warren has already said publicly he is opposed to women's boxing and Frank Maloney, who manages heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis, said recently: "The only reason for women to be in the ring is as ring card girls."

He has described the contest as a freakshow and is firmly opposed to women's boxing. Others argue that it is a dangerous sport for men and have questioned why women want to subject themselves to the risk of brain damage as well.

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