PMT makes women 'unfit to box'

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The Independent Online
WOMEN are unfit to fight because they have periods and pre-menstrual tension, boxing officials declared yesterday.

Defending their refusal to allow the British-born world welterweight champion a licence to fight in her own country, a solicitor representing the professional boxing authority admitted that it was because it believed women became emotional and vulnerable during periods.

Bernard Buckley, for the British Boxing Board of Control, however, told an industrial tribunal in Croydon, south London, that there was no question of officials acting like "dinosaurs seeking to exercise male tyranny".

Dinah Rose, representing female boxer Jane Couch, 29, accused the board of sex discrimination. "They are trying to protect boxing as the last male bastion of sport against the participation of women," she said

Ms Rose added: "It is like when they told women they couldn't run marathons because their wombs would fall out. It is the most distasteful stereotyping of women."

She told the tribunal: "I struggled to think of a more audacious or outrageous plea in a sexual discrimination defence in the last 10 years.

"She's currently the welterweight champion of the world. However, although she is a British boxer, all of her title fights have to be held abroad because the BBBC have refused to give her a professional licence.

"In effect, she is wholly shut out from professional boxing in this country."

Known as the "Fleetwood Assassin", Ms Couch told the hearing that she did not suffer from PMT. The board's other argument - that women might unknowingly be in the early stages of pregnancy when they boxed - was not valid because she always took a pregnancy test before bouts.

Ms Couch, 10st and 5ft 7in tall, told the tribunal that she looked after herself and was a "very fit athlete". She won her world title in Copenhagen, Denmark, last year. There are thought to be about 1,500 women boxers fighting in countries such as the United States, Japan, Germany, Denmark and Russia.

She said that the British WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis's promoter, Panos Eliedes, had offered her pounds 10,000 to take part in a fight at Wembley Arena last December.

The hearing continues today.