British boxing icons Ricky Hatton and Jane Couch will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Hatton is one of the UK’s most famous sportspeople. Hugely popular in Manchester, Hatton’s greatest night came when he upset Kostya Tszyu in his home city in 2004 to win the IBF super-lightweight title.
He unified belts at 140lbs and became a welterweight champion too. Thousands of passionate supporters followed him to Las Vegas when he fought modern greats Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Fleetwood’s Couch has been a trailblazer for women’s boxing and one of the figures who led the sport to where it is today.
She was the first female fighter in the UK to be licensed professionally.
Couch had to fight for that right. Winning her case at an industrial tribunal in 1998 forced the British Boxing Board of Control to award her a licence and sanction contests for female fighters.
“A solicitor called Sara Leslie had seen an interview I’d done on TV and took up my case, enlisting the help of a barrister specialising in equal rights called Diane Rose,” she previously told Sky Sports.
“They worked tirelessly in the battle with the board to get me a licence. It would have cost hundreds of thousands to fight but Sara was that sure the Board were discriminating against me she did it all pro bono.”
Couch would take on Simona Lukic in London in Britain’s first sanctioned women’s bout in 1998.
As well as boxing in the UK, she fought in the USA, most famously boxing Lucia Rijker on the Lennox Lewis vs Vitali Klitschko undercard in 2003.
Couch’s boxing career spanned 14 years, ending in 2008.
Today women’s boxing in Britain has grown into one of the sport’s biggest success stories. Savannah Marshall, who became an undisputed champion, fought Claressa Shields in a headline bout that broke viewing records last year. Earlier in 2023 Natasha Jonas became the first woman to win the British Boxing Board of Control’s prestigious Boxer of the Year award.
That has all been possible thanks to the breakthrough Jane Couch made.
Couch was awarded an MBE for services to sport in 2007.
Michael Moorer, Ivan Calderon and Diego Corrales will also join the Hall of Fame class of 2024.