By Clive Bernath:
No matter what anyone thinks about the standard of female boxing in Britain today, you cannot help but respect and admire all the effort and hard work Bristol –based fighter Jane Couch has put in over the years.
On Saturday night on the undercard of the Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko world heavyweight title showdown at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, Couch faced the world’s best female pound for pound fighter in Dutch born Lucia Rijker. The 36 year-old Rijker battered Couch for eight one-sided rounds as the 80-72 scores on all three judges cards reflected but Couch, as is always the case with her, showed as much grit and determination as any fighter ever has.
I have had many conversations with Couch over the years, about the standard of female boxing and how it will never take off in England. I have also maintained to anyone that would listen that Couch is the only female boxer in Britain today that is of a good enough standard to compete with the world’s best female fighters.
It is also worth noting that the Fleetwood born 33 year-old’ professional career has not been smooth to say the least, since she took on and beat the British Boxing Board of Control to get her licence in November, 1998.
In the beginning a few promoters came forward and put Couch on their bills, sensing what they may have thought was novelty value to bring in more punters. But what they got in effect was a highly polished, fit and determined performer.
Couch never moaned about the money she was getting, she just wanted to fight. And she stressed to me on more than occasion that she did not want to be treated any better or worse than anyone else just because she was a female in a predominantly man’s world.
And if that’s not enough, when she could not get a British promoter to back her she, with the help of her loyal trainer and manager Tex Woodward and other good friends started her own company called Curly Promotions. She brought in her own opponents and just carried on.
Couch had also been chasing a fight with either Christy Martin, Laila Ali or Rijker, for many years. She just wanted to fight the best. Saturday night she got her wish. It may have been painful but that was her defining fight. If the truth be known she knew she could not win and she didn’t. But Couch marched forward all night, eating jab after jab and straight right after straight right.
But what I really admire about Couch is that I have never heard her moan about the standard of an opponent, where she will get changed, who’s got the biggest dressing room, the music’s wrong or any other petty nonsense that so many of her unworthy male counterparts I have heard come out with.
Saturday night Couch was not just a credit to female boxing but also British boxing as a whole. Good luck to you, Jane. You’re a real credit to boxing and an excellent professional.