Ex-Fleetwood boxing champ Jane Couch stunned by phone call from Suranne Jones

Five-time female boxing champ Jane Couch says she was in disbelief when she was told about plans to make a TV series about her life.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 3:11 pm
Former world boxing champ Jane Couch with Suranne Jones. Picture: Laurence Akers

Five-time female boxing champ Jane Couch says she was in disbelief when she was told about plans to make a TV series about her life.

The surprise phone call came from none other than Suranne Jones, the former Coronation Street star whose career has soared since she left the cobbles.

The actress, who scored another hit drama with Gentleman Jack, is to star in and produce the drama based on the life story of the ‘Fleetwood Assassin’ after securing the rights to Jane’s latest book, although she won’t be playing Jane.

Jane Couch with her MBE in 2007. PA picture

The Final Round, a poignant and powerful memoir which packs as a big a punch as any boxer. was published last September.

It tells the story of Jane’s tough upbringing in Fleetwood in the 1970s and 80s, and then her incredible rise from a small town to become not only Britain’s first professional female boxer, but a multiple world champion.

Jane’s success paved the way for today’s crop of successful female boxers in Britain and Ireland and led to her receiving the MBE.

But being the trailblazer proved tough. Often derided by some as a freak, she was also horribly exploited and after retiring, she suffered a breakdown.

Jane with her MBE in 2007. PA picture

Jane, 51, who lives in Bristol but regularly visits Fleetwood, said of that call from the TV star Suranne: “I couldn’t get my head round it at first, Suranne Jones was on the phone asking to meet me in London!

“I don’t know how she got my number, it must have been through the book publishers. I went down there and she was really nice and told me how much she wanted to get my story out there.”

The hunt is already on for a young actress to play Jane.

The book also serves as a tribute to Jane’s solicitor, Sarah Leslie, who with barrister Dinah Rose QC did battle with the British Boxing Board of Control, who refused to give Jane a professional licence. Jane won the high profile court case.

When Sarah died last year, Jane wanted the book, written in the first person with skilful ghostwriter Abbey Smith, to be a tribute to her.

Jane said: “I did the interviews with Abbey over the phone. We’d have a chat every morning and I’d just spill everything out.

“It was really therapeutic for me, because I’d bottled a lot of things up over the years, I’d felt I couldn’t show weakness or admit anything and when I retired from boxing I had a breakdown.

“There were times doing the book when I was sobbing down the phone but it was brilliant, it did me a lot of good. When I read the book I couldn’t believe she’d got all that down, it was amazing.”

She added: “What the book also did was make me realise how important my earlier life in Fleetwood was, what it did for me.

“I grew up in a proper community, where people knew you and looked out for you. In those days we’d all got dads or cousins or uncles who’d been to sea on trawlers. It was tough but it was real. Those friends have stayed with me all my life.”

Suranne, via her TeamAkers Productions banner, and Gentleman Jack producer Lookout Point, has the rights to develop the book as a series and said: “As soon as I met Jane I knew I wanted to tell her story from her perspective and shine a light on this amazing woman who paved the way so others in her position could succeed. We know it’s going to make fantastic television.”