Generally, I consider the Equal Opportunities Commission a bunch of busybodies who’ve made careers out of political correctness. However, a tenet of TC philosophy is that consenting women should be free to beat the crap out of each other, so even I cheered when Jane Couch took British boxing authorities to the EOC, and thence to the cleaners, for their refusal to grant her a licence.
When I heard her first fight was in Streatham, five minutes up the line from TCHQ, it created a fine “research opportunity”: watch the inaugural sanctioned women’s pro-boxing bout in Britain, and get material for this issue too. I bought a ticket (at £30, rather more than the wrestling) and went to see Couch take on a German boxer, Simone Lukic. Couch, a.k.a. the ‘Fleetwood Assassin’ – not the best handle in boxing history – is an ex-confectionery packer with a colourful history involving juvenile delinquency, and looking at her reminded me of the quote often attributed to Wellington: “I don’t know about the enemy, but they certainly put the fear of God in me”. I’d certainly want a lot of money to tangle with her. This was Beauty and the Beast: Couch resembled Jennifer Saunders with dreadlocks, while Lukic, just 18, was tall and willowy, giving the impression a stiff breeze might cause her trouble. Credit to Couch, though, for entering the ring to Sid Vicious’s version of My Way – even if Smack My Bitch Up might have been more appropriate.
Because from the start, it was clear even to me that the sole question was when Couch would win, not if. Her punches had far more vigour, and she just kept advancing, crouched in a toad-like fashion. Lukic, not to be found anywhere in the world rankings, gamely tried to use her height, and jab to keep Couch off, but it was like watching a pink, fluffy thing being stalked by a dark, spiky thing. At 1:04 in round two, Couch finally landed a proper punch. The referee stopped the fight immediately – possibly too rapidly, though Lukic did receive attention in her corner for some time.
Execution witnessed, the press duly departed – and so did Couch, having earned £1,400 at a much better rate than in her rock-packing days. Longer, albeit less interesting, all-male fights followed. Going by this rout, perhaps Couch’s nickname is appropriate after all. But it was such a mismatch, who can tell for sure? Maybe next time, she’ll fight an opponent who can match her undeniable skills, and then we’ll be better able to tell