Boxing: Couch wins first pro licence for a woman

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S TOP woman boxer, Jane Couch, has created sporting history after the British Boxing Board of Control granted her application for a professional licence yesterday. The move signals a new era for boxing in Britain, with Couch already having attracted interest from several promoters.

It ends a three-year fight for the 27-year-old, which led to Couch taking the BBBC to a tribunal and a claim of sexual discrimination after her original application had been rejected. The Board decided not to appeal against the decision, although the tribunal did not state that the women's world welterweight champion had to be granted a licence, which it emphasised remained a decision for the BBBC.

Couch, who worked in a Blackpool rock factory before taking up boxing and who now lives in Bristol, then had her application heard by the board's Western Area Council at a meeting in Devon. Upon their recommendation, there was a full meeting of the Board and pending medical reports - which gave her the all-clear - they then took the momentous step to award her a licence, which was finally granted yesterday.

Couch, who had previously been forced to box in America or on the European mainland, will now be able to box in Britain. She said: "Thank God it's over. Three years I've been fighting. It's a relief and I'm glad I can now show everyone in this country what a good fighter I am."

Naseem Hamed was yesterday given the go-ahead to return to the ring after recovering from a fractured hand. The World Boxing Organisation world featherweight champion has been out of action since suffering the injury during his seventh-round defeat of Wilfredo Vazquez in Manchester in April. He is now aiming to make his next defence this October after his planned 18 July title fight was called off because of the injury.