Boxing: Women lacking in punch: Jonathan Rendall is underwhelmed by Jimmy Finn's first female promotion

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SADLY for the promoter, Jimmy Finn, the deafening clicks attending Britain's first Women's International Boxing Federation promotion on Saturday came not from the turnstiles but from press photographers staking out the ringside at Bethnal Green.

'I know what they'll want,' Finn had earlier predicted. 'A shot of a girl draped over the ropes so the editors can get outraged about girls boxing. But they don't mind exploiting girls by posing them topless wearing boxing gloves.'

A photographer from a tabloid was refused entry on ethical grounds, although this may also have been to do with several newspapers, including the Sunday Sport, declining Finn's approach for sponsorship. 'That is the kind of double standard we're dealing with,' he said.

Inside the 1,000-capacity venue, the 100-odd paying customers consisted of several all-women groups, a band of skinheads and a few young couples, with the male partners affecting sheepish disinterest. In addition there were some much older gents who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves and were later identified as a party of readers from a relaxational magazine called Amazons In Action.

Those of the male referees who had not been in a ring with Kirkland Laing were confronted for the first time with the problem of hairpins coming out. Otherwise the standard of boxing, as between novices in the male sport, swung between anxious flailings and the 'I won't hit you if you don't hit me' variety.

Ann Lalic from Chameleon TV, the director of a documentary about women's boxing to be screened by Channel 4 in May, denied that the event had been contrived to serve the needs of the film, which has a pounds 135,000 budget. 'Documentary-makers don't pay people to stage events,' Lalic said. 'All we have paid Jimmy is a modest facility fee. It's his idea and his money on the line, and we won't be using much of this anyway.' The women boxers were reportedly being paid between pounds 100 and pounds 500 each by the promoter.

The fates of a psychiatric nurse from Tooting and a lithe pugilist from Palmers Green showed that the effect of being hit on the chin by a hard right hand is the same for women as it is for men. Both women were stopped inside the distance and had to be helped from the ring in distress.

Finn admitted: 'To be honest the real reason I'm doing this is to get as much publicity as possible.' Meanwhile, in the programme was an advertisement for 'box-aerobics' classes run by Finn's partner, Pauline Dickson, urging women to 'come and get fit and learn self-defence at the same time in a fun, safe, environment'.

(Photograph omitted)