Woman golfer labelled 'Ali' after punch-up

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A champion lady golfer was dubbed "Muhammad Ali" after punching a club member from his bar stool, an industrial tribunal heard yesterday.

The story quickly spread of how Philomena Vaughan swung into action when John Price, a businessman, allegedly stroked her thigh. Jean Evans, a part-time assistant at the Dewstow Golf Club shop, which Mrs Vaughan managed, told the Cardiff hearing of jokes that were made about the incident. "Philomena was laughing about it," said Mrs Evans. "She was talking to a shop rep and saying members were calling her Muhammad Ali. That's how word got around other clubs."

Mrs Vaughan, 42, a mother of four, three times club champion and a county player, was later sacked for gross insubordination, the tribunal has heard.

She is claiming unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination by the Dewstow Club at Caerwent, Gwent. Her case is being backed by the Equal Opportunities Commission.

Jonathan Harris, a partner in the club, agreed chuckling when he heard about the incident - but then realised the implications. After rumours about the row spread, the club had tried to settle the matters between Mrs Vaughan and Mr Price, 49, who denies touching her.

Mrs Vaughan was suspended from playing golf at the club but kept her job at the shop, pending an investigation. There was no dispute that she struck Mr Price, but the club could not find any witnesses who saw what caused the incident.

Mrs Vaughan was sacked two months later, after launching a "tirade of abuse" the club committee chairman.

She was also alleged to have called the club's ladies' captain Mary Fuller an "old bitch" after being told she would no longer be allowed to collect a trophy on behalf of the club.

Giving evidence, Mrs Fuller said Mrs Vaughan had been a friend. Their relationship had soured because Mrs Vaughan had mistakenly believed she was taking the management's side, the tribunal heard.

Mrs Vaughan, of Rogiet, near Newport, is expected to give evidence when the hearing resumes today.