Jane Couch, a true pioneer in women’s boxing, will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame later this week. In 1998, Couch sued the British Boxing Board of Control to secure her right to fight in the United Kingdom, even after she had made marquee fights in the United States and Europe.

In a recent discussion with BoxingScene, Couch discussed her induction to the Hall, her hardships while battling the British boxing establishment in the 1980s and ‘90s, the current state of women’s boxing in the U.K., and more.

BoxingScene: What does it feel like to be a Hall of Famer?

Jane Couch: Oh, I think it's still sinking in, to be honest. When you set out to be a professional boxer, you want to win titles, which you do. But to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame is just on another level, really. I'm just so proud and so grateful to everybody that voted, and thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is brilliant.

BS: The Clash wrote a song with the lyrics “I fought the law and the law won.” You fought British boxing promoters and the British Boxing Board of Control, but you won. Looking back now, was it all worth it?

JC: That's a really hard question, because back in the day, when you were struggling to fight in your own country and had to keep going abroad to America and Europe to fight, the opportunities just weren't there. It would be great to be around now. But then, on the other side of the coin, too, like you said, to be inducted into the boxing Hall of Fame is just on another level. Yeah, I suppose the answer is yes.

BS: It is so hard to believe, given the current climate of boxing, that you couldn’t fight at home, especially given the rise of women’s boxing in the U.K.

JC: It was just a really strange time in the U.K. So when I got into it, I saw Christy Martin fight Deirdre Gogarty on the undercard of Frank Bruno-Mike Tyson. I thought, “Wow, I’d love to have a go at that.” Then I went into the gym in the U.K., and it was like, “Oh, you can't do it. You can't do it in England. You have to go to America.” I was like, “Really?” So the whole journey was just, from start to finish, the U.K. just really was against women's boxing. The boxing media was against it, the boxing authorities were against it. The struggle was real. It was hard. But I think looking at it now, they must be thinking, after 20 years, Jane was right. If they had listened 20 years ago, the U.K. would be in a much better position with women's boxing than where it is. We are still in a good position – we're doing well, we got most of the champions in the U.K. But if there's a lesson, in 1998, when I was banging the drum and having to fight in America. … It’s just different times, and I’m just so grateful to be here.

BS: When most think of women's boxing now, the hub is the U.K. Most women boxers in America want to fight in the U.K. You are the major reason that that happened. So the success and great opportunities now have come because of your pioneering.

JC: I do think – and I really do believe I've said this in all of my interviews – if I hadn't taken the British Boxing Board of Control to court, then it still would be illegal to this day in the U.K. I really, really do believe that, because it's a private club. If you're not part of the club, then you're just an outcast. And even now, when women's boxing is growing, they still don't want me as a face of it. They don't want me around because everyone's trying to forget how they treated me and how bad it was and how I had to travel and do fights on short notice, fight at weights that you don't want to do it at. But I just think now, it's them with egg on their faces. And maybe they might just one day apologize and realize that they were wrong and I was right.

BS: What is your happiest memory in boxing?

JC: There weren't many. The one that stands out was my first world title, against Sandra Geiger. She was a lot more experienced, having 27 fights and 27 wins. The crowd was just all for her, and it was in her territory. I think that really stands out. And then, obviously, after that was winning the court case, because it was just such a big step forward for women in boxing – but not only women in boxing, for women in sport in the U.K. It’s just great that it's going from strength to strength, and I have got America to thank for all of it. Because America let me go over there and fight your champions, and at the time, in the ‘90s, America was putting on some great women's fight shows: Christy Martin, Lucia Rijker, you had some real big names involved in good fights. I was seeing all that and being a part of that, and that's why I was bringing it back here. So now I just look back and think, “Thanks again to America.”

BS: And you will be inducted to the Hall of Fame in America. Was it important to be the first British woman inducted?

JC: I've just got a thing about being the first – the first British woman to be inducted, but again, in America. I don't think I'll ever get any recognition in this country. Because, like I said, the promoters and the managers and the trainers that are all involved now would feel stupid. Because it’s probably the same people that was telling me back then that I couldn't box that it's OK for them to be doing it now. So yeah, massive achievement, and just thank you to everybody.

BS: Walking with Natasha Jonas for her fight with Mikaela Mayer in January, can we talk about that? Because, as a viewer watching it, that moment felt very emotional.

JC: A lot of people said that, and It was quite emotional because I was thinking, “This is how it could have been in 1998, and then the early 2000s, if I had been given the chance.” And I did eventually get to box in the U.K., but not in a big arena show with a big promoter. I love Tasha anyway. I love what she stands for, and it was just an honor to be able to do it.

BS: You walked out with Jonas as a figure of historical importance. There was something about your entrance that felt like a significant moment in time, maybe an inflection point.

JC: Oh, thank you so much. And that is what it felt like. I did it – I changed history, even though the fight was for Tasha and Mikaela. It just felt like I did it for the women of the U.K., and I was just so proud. You're gonna make me cry.

BS: The British Boxing Board of Control named Jonas its 2022 Fighter of the Year. What were your thoughts, that happening in your lifetime, given everything you’ve been through?

JC: They couldn't really not name her. She'd done so well going up in weight and winning worlds titles. It was a bittersweet one for me because I know what the British Boxing Board really thinks about women's boxing. When people read my book and read how bad they were, and how bad the boxing media were, to me... It was brilliant, but it also was a bit phony of them because I know they don't really think that about women's boxing as much as they pretend they do. Women's boxing’s still got a helluva long way to go in this country.

BS: Tris Dixon [now editor of BoxingScene] wrote a story about you earlier this year in which you joked, “Hasn't it changed?” But how much has women's boxing actually changed – or not – since when you fought?

JC: It has changed, if you come out of the amateurs and you've got a gold medal or something like that. Then you get a big promoter and you are getting on TV and probably getting better money. The girls just turning professional without the big promoter and the big manager and the big amateur record, I do think it's hard. Because it is about “Can you sell tickets?” and we all know that's really hard. It's just hard work as a pro boxer. But as a female pro boxer, just starting now, there's still a helluva long way to go. But I suppose that goes for men, too. If men don't have a great amateur career and then turn professional – again, they have to be a big ticket seller and be with the right promoters. You've got to remember, in boxing there's only like 9 percent of boxers that make money. The other 91 percent probably don’t?

BS: What would you tell a young fighter who's turning pro, man or woman, right now?

JC: I'd say you must get a good team around you – that is the first thing. People that you can trust. Because it's a hard business. It's a brutal sport, a real brutal sport, and you haven't really got that long in professional boxing. Because there is a life after professional boxing – you should always remember that. If you retire, and you're retiring normally, and you have no other skills, you should think about after boxing, because that's where your life is lived, really. Just make sure the people around you, that you can trust them and that they are good people.

BS: Do you see yourself as a Hall of Fame boxer, a pioneer or both? And which one is most important to you?

JC: I think until the ceremony, until I get inducted, I think it's just all surreal and unbelievable to me, at the minute. I think while I'm there with all those legends – Miguel Cotto is going to be there, Micky Ward, Erik Morales – I’m going to be like, “Wow.” I suppose it's more important that I am the pioneer, because that's what I really am. I think that's why I got into the Hall of Fame, because of the battle that I put up against the British Boxing Board of Control.

BS: You're one of the most fascinating figures in modern boxing, in large part because few people would have had the courage you showed. Is that something you have an awareness about?

JC: I've got to be honest, there were times when I just didn't want to carry on. I was in bits, I wasn't getting paid. I was boxing on some of the biggest shows in the world, like Lennox Lewis-Vitali Klitschko, on the undercard to Roy Jones Jr., Prince Naseem Hamed, and I just wasn't getting paid. I wasn't making a living out there. But I was training full time, I was away from my family and my friends, and there were times when I wanted to stop. But there was just something telling me, “You've got to keep going, you've just got to keep doing it.” This is what I always say to people: To be great, you must do great things. That goes in life. And if you're a boxing journalist, to be a great boxing journalist, you have to do great things. I remember having the conversation with Tris Dixon. When we found out I was getting inducted, I said to him, ”Wow, it seems really surreal.” I'm still debating now with people about women's boxing. He said, “Jane, the debate is over. You’re in there, and that debate is over.” He was right, and I think as you get older, as well as you sort of understand the professional boxing world a bit more, I think that's what keeps me grounded – because I know exactly how hard it is.