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Thursday, February 12, 1998 Published at 21:08 GMT


Woman boxer fights ring ban
image: [ Jane Couch - her latest fight is with boxing authorities ]
Jane Couch - her latest fight is with boxing authorities

Britain's top woman boxer has gone to an industrial tribunal accusing authorities of sex discrimination for not allowing her into the ring.

Jane Couch, 29, from Fleetwood, Lancashire, is taking on the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) for refusing to grant her a licence to fight on "medical grounds".

An industrial tribunal in Croydon, south London, heard that the BBBC had said women were "too fragile to box" and suffer from pre-menstrual tension which makes them emotional, unstable and accident-prone.

Dinah Rose, representing Ms Couch said: "This is one of the crudest forms of gender stereotyping.

"It is an attempt to protect the last bastion of male only sport against the participation of women."

[ image:  ]
The BBBC claimed women should not be allowed to box professionally because they bruise more easily, can gain weight during periods and become unstable when experiencing PMT.

The board ruled that all contraceptives and painkillers taken for period pains would not be allowed.

It said it would be dangerous for women to box when pregnant and they could suffer lumps on the breasts after being punched.

The board also said the rule banning boxers from wearing anything above waist-height would have to be "drastically reconsidered".

Couch, who is 5ft 7in and weighs 10 stone, won her world crown in Copenhagen last year but wants recognition in her own country.

[ image:  ]
Leonard Read, president and chairman of the board, admitted she had not been medically examined by the board before her application was rejected.

In December 1997, Ms Couch was offered £10,000 to fight at Wembley Arena.

But Mr Read said that women boxing "only attracted alleged fans who want to see women fighting as much as they did women mud wrestling".

The board is due to call Dr Adrian Whiteson, medical advisor to the BBBC, who is expected to support claims that women are genetically unsuited to boxing.

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