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Friday, February 13, 1998 Published at 18:15 GMT


Boxing 'fears death of woman fighter'
image: [ Boxing is becoming more popular with British girls but the BBBC fears the death of a woman fighter ]
Boxing is becoming more popular with British girls but the BBBC fears the death of a woman fighter

A medical adviser to British boxing's ruling body has admitted the death of a woman boxer in the ring would jeopardise the sport's future.

Dr Adrian Whiteson was giving evidence at an industrial tribunal in which Jane Couch is alleging she has been sexually discriminated against by the British Board of Boxing Control (BBBC).

The BBBC refused her a professional boxing licence in June 1997 and she has been forced to pursue the sport in America.

Ms Couch, 29, from Fleetwood, Lancashire, is the WIBF world welterweight champion and trains on a farm on the outskirts of Bristol.

Decision taken to protect the sport

On Friday Dr Whiteson said the decision to deny a licence to the "Fleetwood Assassin" was taken to protect the sport in general.

He told the industrial tribunal at Croydon, south London: "I have no objection to women boxing if that is what they desire and see no reason why they should not start up their own body with their own medical advisers, if that is the way they want to go."

[ image: Jane Couch must pursue her career in America]
Jane Couch must pursue her career in America
But he added: "Boxing as we know is a high risk sport which can cause injury and death.

"Should such a tragedy occur when a woman is boxing, I believe that the public adversity would put the whole sport at risk."

Women too frail to box

Earlier the tribunal was told that Dr Whiteson considered women in general "too frail" to box because they bruised easily and became unstable when suffering from pre-menstrual tension".

Dr Whiteson, who has 35 years' experience in the sport, said women were not considered as individuals but as a whole.

He said Ms Couch might one day thank him for his decision if research proved an increased risk to women.

Summing up, Bernard Buckley, lawyer for the board, said they had not completely shut the door on Ms Couch's application but wanted more research on the effects of boxing on women.

Chairman of the tribunal, John Warren, reserved judgement at the end of the tribunal and said it would take several weeks to go through the mass of evidence which was presented.

Last year two teenage girls were given permission by the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) to fight on a show in the Midlands - the first time women have ever boxed publicly in Britain.

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