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From Fleetwood to Canastota, the career of Jane Couch reaches the International Boxing Hall of Fame | Boxing News


WHEN Jane Couch received the call a few months ago informing her she would be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, she dismissed the very idea that the class of 2024 would include “The Fleetwood Assassin”.

“Nowadays there’s hall of fames all over and I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, right’ so I shrugged it off,” she tells Boxing News.

On the other end of the call was IBHOF Founder and Executive Director Ed Brophy, who likely shrugged it off, too, because he returned with a second call asking Couch for her ring size, which raised the tone of the 55-year-old former world champion.

“‘What do you want my ring size for?’” And he said, ‘Because you’re in the hall of fame’ and I’m like, ‘Really (laughs)’. And then I seen Ricky [Hatton] was in it and I was like, ‘Wow’.”

In today’s terminology, Couch’s induction would be described as, “getting her flowers”. A term used online and in the real world (I think) when someone is recognised for their achievements in their respective field.

Couch’s scepticism towards Brophy’s initial call is a defence mechanism based on how she was treated years ago when the recognition wasn’t there, which led to fighting inside the ring and outside it, too.

“I was fighting for the right, not the money,” she says.

Couch can remember those who dismissed her back then, who in 2024 are big supporters of women’s boxing. The name of Jane Couch appears to be forgotten by many who actually owe her a lot, and it is rarely said on TV. But likely, it’s her face and voice that don’t fit in with what the broadcasters produce on our screens.

Couch recalled a conversation with the late, great Glyn Leach, former Boxing Monthly editor, who told her she didn’t fit and that one wrong thing said, and she’d be gone.

“He was lovely,” Couch said of Leach.

“He was one of my proper mates and always told me how it was and so supportive. He used to ring me at two in the morning, ‘Good luck in your fight’ and encouraged me. And the YouTube channel (she and Rita Lomas had), he could see it taking off. He’s missed.

“They broke the mould when they made him. Used to have deep, deep conversations with him for hours. We’d meet at punk gigs but back then it weren’t about being a celebrity and having all these followers, it was just pure heart. He was an amazing man.”

She isn’t without supporters nowadays, either. Her partner Brian is with her and met up with fellow inductee Ricky Hatton and his group before travelling to America. As she explained, another party of people are joining Couch on her journey.

“I’ve got a film crew with me because they’re doing my life story in a film.

“Filming starts in November. It all come out and they wanted to do a series and we didn’t think it was a series but they did. Then lockdown hit, now it’s all back up and running again. We’ve got a little fly-on-the-wall documentary as well.”

Contrary to reports, Suranne Jones will not be playing Couch; instead, that role will land on someone else’s feet and fists. Jones, however, will play one of a two-women legal team – Sarah Leslie and Dinah Rose – who fought successfully (in 1998) alongside Couch against the British Boxing Board of Control to allow women to box in the UK. Couch’s courageous and amazing story can also be read in The Final Round which was published in 2019 and will be used as material to tell her story on the big screen.

“She [Suranne Jones] was never playing me she was playing the lawyer,” Couch says.

“There was me and two female lawyers. Sarah Leslie died at 42 of breast cancer. When I wrote the book I dedicated it [to Sarah]. The fight was really us three women. The lawyer, the barrister and me. So, the book was dedicated to Sarah who died of breast cancer. And she would’ve been so proud to see how women’s boxing is turning out.”

Couch may have won the case, but the wounds remain deep. While bitterness may be less, the memories remain, yet contentment steadies everything. Now, she is part of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, still to her surprise. Her toughest opponent this weekend looks like the speech she has to make as part of the induction and a packed schedule.

“I’m good at talking, it’s just the speech… I don’t know what to say,” she said.

BN asked Couch if she had anything prepared.

“Have a fuck,” she laughed. “I’ll just do it off my head. No airs or graces with me.”

Being in America feels like a second home to the trailblazing Couch, such was the amount of time spent there fighting at venues such as the Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut or the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on the Lennox Lewis-Vitali Klitschko undercard where she fought the fearsome Lucia Riijker over eight rounds. But one memory of America stands out above all others for Couch.

“Winning the [super-lightweight] world title [in 2004]. When I fought Jamie Clampitt, we got Ring magazine [female] fight of the year. She’s coming to the hall of fame to see me being inducted. Obviously, winning the first world title in Denmark as well. It were mad times. The Lewis-Klitschko bill was a standout because me and Ryker had a war on that. I fought on a Roy Jones Jr undercard… that was a great experience. There’s quite a lot. I suppose getting the MBE for it. All good memories. We’re all getting on… I’m 55 now!

“I just take it all with a pinch of salt,” she added. “I don’t do all that celebrity shit, it’s not me, not my scene. I’m just enjoying life. Back home in Fleetwood by the sea. It’s nice you’re being recognised in a film and the hall of fame, I suppose.”

And with that, Couch bid farewell as she got ready for a moment in her life that is thoroughly deserving and long overdue.



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