Jane Couch became Britain’s first officially licenced female boxer when she was already a world champion.
Lancashire’s Couch was a trailblazer for women’s boxing in a generation before Katie Taylor and co, and had a career from 1994 until 2007.
She battled for equality but also rubbed shoulders with boxing legends in a unique career that largely passed by without the respect that it deserved. She told Sky Sports her stories and secrets…
ðŸ¤” How do you think @JaneCouchMBE would get on against the current crop of female fighters? @MrAndyClarke is convinced that she would definitely hold her own ðŸ’ª ðŸ“º #Toe2Toe: https://t.co/EaVZEErCsU ðŸŽ§ Podcast: https://t.co/MDRDoXKkMt pic.twitter.com/KBUuiPYaru
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) September 18, 2019
How did you start boxing?I saw a documentary about women boxing in America on the undercard of a Mike Tyson show. I thought: ‘Wow, I want to have a go’. I went to a local gym but they said: ‘Women can’t box’.
In America they already had an amateur system, I was welcomed with open arms. They were 10 years ahead – just look at their women’s football team. It was alien to me because I was hated at home for wanting to box.
You boxed on several major cards including Lennox Lewis vs Vitali Klitschko…It was brilliant to be a part of the big night. Lewis trained in my gym in Bristol.
I remember being with Micky Ward on the same card. It was normal for him to have me in the dressing room with him.
I boxed on the card when Roy Jones Jr was at the height of his fame, when he fought Montell Griffin.
I spent a week in New Orleans with Angelo Dundee, something I’ll never forget. He was brilliant. He is an icon for what he did with Muhammad Ali.
I asked him about Ali. He said: ‘He’s no different to you or me’.
He said: ‘We didn’t realise what we were creating’.
The night I boxed in New Orleans, Angelo had another fighter on the card, but Sugar Ray Leonard was making a comeback somewhere else.
I said to him: ‘Why are you not with Ray?’
He said: ‘Jane, he shouldn’t be boxing’.
He was so humble. Anything I asked, he answered. Angelo was a god of trainers. For him to give a cheeky young girl from England the time of day, let alone spend time with me…
Back then, there was no Twitter or Instagram. I took photos with a throwaway camera but I’ve lost them all now.
You believe your former opponent Lucia Rijker is the best female boxer ever?The greatest woman fighter ever to walk the earth. I fought her on the Lewis vs Klitschko card.
It was her power.
She was in training with Lennox Lewis and trainer Emmanuel Steward. She was knocking out Mexicans in sparring.
How do I describe her power? I’d sparred men (I had no choice). British champions, top amateurs, good level men. They will all say I was tough and could take a punch.
There was something different about Lucia. She was ahead of her time. She had already cleaned up in the Thai boxing world! Boxing was her second sport.
She knocked everybody out, except me.
You boxed in Jamaica…Tim Witherspoon’s niece helped to promote a show on the beach on Montego Bay.
Lennox Lewis held a torch up while my hands were wrapped because the electric had gone out.
The journey to Jamaica was horrendous. We had three weeks’ notice, a delayed flight, diverted to another country, then when we arrived we didn’t have a hotel room.
They said: ‘Sleep on the beach, it’s great!’