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© Copyrighted photo taken by Tony Duffy

 
   

5'8" Jane "The Fleetwood Assassin" Couch was born in Fleetwood, England on August 14,1968. 

Jane credits boxing with keeping her out of big-time trouble. After being expelled from her Blackpool school as a teenager, she lived what she's described as "a life of booze, drugs and street fighting" until she was 26. Then she saw a TV documentary about women's boxing in the USA.  She decided that she could do at least as well as that!

Jane's first official fight was a Muay Thai contest at which she knocked out a female policeman in the second round. This was an achievement that Couch still relishes after her early run-ins with the British police - "it was brilliant to flatten one and get paid for it", she says. 

In January 1995, she earned a  six-round decision over Fosteres Joseph; in April, she performed what's become a rite of passage for female boxers in the UK by TKO'ing Jamie (Jane) Johnson in the fourth round (Jamie, who fell to 0-3 with the loss, is a persistent and rugged opponent who hasn't acquired enough defense for her own safety as a boxer!). In July 1995, Jane won a six-round decision over Julia Shirley.  (These three fights were all in Jane's home town of Fleetwood.) 

Jane truly burst on the world boxing scene on May 31, 1996 when she traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark and outpointed French kickboxing star Sandra Geiger to win the WIBF Welterweight title. The 10-round fight showed a European TV audience of 3.5 million that women's pro boxing would lack nothing in ferocity ... and that Britain had a world-class boxer in Jane Couch!

Couch described herself after this fight as "my cheekbone was busted, my eye was out to here [she cups her right hand 18 inches from her face], and I was a mess of bumps and bruises."

But Geiger, an experienced and world ranked kickboxer (25-0 with 10 kayos) who had won this WIBF title by TKO'ing Helga Risoy of Norway that February, had a broken rib, a broken nose and a broken hand, and was out on her feet at the end of the fight!  Geiger reportedly spent three days in hospital recovering after the fight.

After the Geiger fight, there was little no question that anyone getting into the ring with Jane Couch had better be ready for the battle of their lives ... this "bad girl" with the megawatt smile and ready sense of humor is for real!

Jane Couch vs. Andrea De ShongAndrea De Shong and Jane Couch

Jane first defended her world welterweight title against veteran Andrea DeShong at the Carnival of Champions in New Orleans on March 2, 1997. Now trained by Tex Woodward at a gym near Bristol, UK, Jane has learned defense and all-round boxing skills. She wore down the more experienced DeShong with body punching to set up a seventh-round TKO ... a script that Christy Martin was to follow a few months later! DeShong fell to 14-4-1 with the loss.  

Jane Couch vs. Leah Mellinger
 

Jane (138½ lbs) moved her record to 7-0 with 3 KO's by scoring a 10-round unanimous decision over Leah Mellinger (139 lbs) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania in Ledyard, Connecticut on August 7, 1997. Melllinger fell to 3-3-1.

But Jane suffered a setback in her first appearance sanctioned by the IFBA, losing a hard-fought split decision to veteran Dora Webber over six rounds on October 24, 1997 in Lula, Mississippi. Webber had the experience and the punching power to give Jane a tough battle in a relatively short non-title match, and appeared to win the decision going away, although not in the eyes of one judge, hence the split.

On January 10, 1998 at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, Jane (137 lbs) lost a ten-round rematch with Webber (140 lbs) for the vacant IWBF welterweight title by a unanimous decision. 

Jane also launched a legal fight with the British Boxing Board of Control, who refused to issue her (or any other British female boxer) a boxing license on flimsy medical grounds. Panos Eliades, the promoter of WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, had promised to promote Jane if the BBBC relents. The tribunal ruled in Jane's favor in March 1998. Armed with her favorable ruling, Jane also sued the BBBC for loss of past income!

Jane (144 lbs) made a place for herself in British boxing history at Caesar's Palace in Streatham, in London on November 25, 1998, by posting a TKO at 1:04 of the second round over badly overmatched 18-year-old Simona Lukic (144 lbs) from Speyer, Germany. Lukic did not put up much of a fight against Couch and the referee stopped the contest when she failed to respond to a big flurry of punches from Jane.

But Couch vs. Lukic had been the first women's professional contest under the jurisdiction of the British Boxing Board of Control since the Board's formation in 1929. British promoter Frank Maloney, who trained Lennox Lewis, minced no words about the occasion, telling the Daily Telegraph newspaper: "In my opinion all officials should have boycotted it, and I take my hat off to those officials at the Boxing Board of Control who have declined to work the show." He also told the BBC: "The only reason for women to be in the ring is as ring card girls." It remained to be seen whether women's pro boxing would be better accepted by British fans than by the likes of Mr. Maloney!

On February 20, 1999 at the Thornaby Pavilion in Teesside, Jane successfully defended her WIBF welterweight title with a 10-round unanimous (96-95, 97-93, 98-93) decision over European champion Marischa Sjauw of Holland. The fight was the first female title bout in the UK to be sanctioned by the British Boxing Board of Control, making it another milestone in Jane Couch's long battle to have the sport officially recognized in her home country. Sjauw was knocked down by a right in the first round but recovered to pressure Couch in the second and third rounds. The fourth and fifth were even with Couch pressing and Sjauw willing to stand and trade. Sjauw used her jab well in the sixth, but Couch outworked her in the seventh and eighth. Couch was bothered in the last two rounds by blood from a cut on her head that later required nine stitches. Jane told us that she found this "a hard fight" and that she thinks Marischa is "a great fighter in and out of the ring." Sjauw fell to 8-4-1 with this loss.

On April 1, 1999 in Birmingham , England, Jane won an eight-round 78-75 decision over Heike Noller of Berlin, Germany. (Only the referee scores the bout in Britain unless it's for an international title). Noller held her own in the early going but Jane finished stronger to earn referee John Coyle's decision. Noller fell to 8-1 with the loss.

On October 31, 1999, at the David Lloyd Tennis Centre in Raynes Park, London, Jane moved her pro record to 11-2 and won the vacant WBF Women's Lightweight title with a 10-round decision over OBA welterweight champion Sharon Anyos of Australia, whose pro boxing record fell to 3-1. The judges' were unanimous: John Coyle 99-92, Terry O'Connor 98-94, and Larry O'Connell (of Holyfield vs. Lewis fame) 96-95. (For details, see the full fight report by James Clifford).

On March 9, 2000 at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, Jane moved her pro record to 12-2 with a TKO of South African army captain and kickboxing champion Michelle Strauss at 1:55 of the third round. According to our correspondents, Strauss had clearly come to fight and exhibited good size, strength, conditioning and hand speed, but Couch was just too much for her and the South African kept turning away from Jane's big lefts. Strauss said after the fight: "Jane punched much too hard for me. Britain must be very proud of having a double champion like her." (See also the full fight report by James Clifford).

On July 1, 2000 at the Elephant & Castle in London, Jane successfully defended the WBF Lightweight title and moved to 13-2 with a sixth-round stoppage of Bulgaria's Galina Giumliiska, who fell to 3-4.

On August 19, 2000 Jane returned to the USA for another bout at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut, where she had defeated Leah Mellinger. Jane (134 lbs) suffered another US defeat when rising star Liz Mueller (133 lbs) of New London, Connecticut won a six-round unanimous decision (59-55 on all three cards). Mueller had extensive amateur experience and was able to outbox Jane on this night.

Jane's next bout was accompanied by a new controversy. She and her gym-mate Claire Cooper were scheduled to fight two Russian boxers at Wembley, U.K. on June 16, 2000 but the arrangements ran afoul of new regulations imposed by the British Boxing Board of Control requiring full British medical certification (including MRI and blood test) to be conducted in Britain for foreign boxers. These regulations are a big obstacle for small promoters trying to bring women from other countries to fight in Britain (where only a small number of home-grown female boxers are available ... the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) estimates that there are around 50 British women who are ready for competition). Jane Couch has tried to publicise this issue by seeking an injunction for restraint of trade, and also asked to fight an exhibition bout with one of her male sparring partners at Wembley ... this in an attempt to persuade the BBBofC to relax their rules for women boxers (see news report).

The June 16, 2001 card at Wembley finally went ahead with Jane matched against Viktoria Olenik of the Ukraine. Jane won by a four-round decision, dropping Olenik to 0-2.

On July 28, 2001 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Jane fought to a four-round decision over Shakurah Witherspoon of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Witherspoon, who has fought one of the toughest opponent rosters in women's pro boxing, slipped to 8-23-1 (3 KO's). Jane tells me that the result was announced as a split decision, but this was an error, and that the decision was actually unanimous.

Jane said of the conditions around this fight "if I had known what it would it be like, I am not sure I would have taken the fight. It was a 23-hour journey from England; we got off the plane and fought seven hours later. When we got there, everything was wrong - even 10 minutes before the fight, we were not sure it was going to happen. We had to accept a pay cut to get into the ring - I was supposed to have received $2000 for the fight, but had to settle for $1000. They also refused to pay for our hotel once the fight finished."

On December 16, 2001 at the Marriott Hotel in Bristol, U.K., Jane TKO'd Tzanka Kurova of Bulgaria in the third round.  Kurova fell to 1-2 with this loss.

Jane vs. Sumya AnaniOn June 21, 2002 at the Convention Center in Waco, Texas, Sumya Anani (140 lbs) stopped Jane (138½ lbs) at 0:51 in the fourth round for the WIBA junior welterweight (140-lb) title. Women's Boxing Page correspondent Kevin Cockle writes: "A hammering left hand from the southpaw stance staggered Couch and sat her stupefied in the ropes, right arm draped over a middle strand, and brutal follow up punches bashed home as Anani made no mistake. Maybe a dozen unanswered lefts and rights swivelled Couch’s head and put her out on her feet, finally eliciting action from the ref ..." Anani advanced to 20-1-1 (7 KO) with the win. (For round-by-round details, see the fight report by Women's Boxing Page correspondent Kevin Cockle.)

On August 3, 2002 at Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool, U.K. Jane (135 lbs) rebounded from her loss to Anani with a rugged six-round unanimous (60-56) decision over unheralded Borislava Goranova (142 lbs) of Bulgaria. "Goranova is an incredible fighter and is one to watch for the future", says Couch, adding "she’s got a great heart and isn’t afraid to mix it up a bit. My plan was to outbox her but it didn’t work out like that because we ended up just going at it, toe-to-toe." Goranova fell to 2-2 with the loss.

On December 8, 2002 at Thistle Hotel in Bristol, U.K., Jane won a ten-round unanimous (100-90) decision over the same Borislava Goranova of Bulgaria. Couch used her reach and height advantage to stick and move while controlling the first half of the bout, scoring on Goranova almost at will. Couch went to trading toe to toe with Goranova later in the fight and was able to back the Bulgarian up for a convincing win for the WBF junior welterweight title. Goranova fell to 2-4-0 (0 KO). Couch was cheered all the way by a partisan Bristol crowd. "The support was brilliant", said Couch, "they really made me feel at home. Bristol is like a second home to me and I want to fight here again.

Couch again issued a challenge to Laila Ali after the bout. "Bring on Ali. I can't wait to have a crack at her", says Jane. "I'd have to go up a couple of weights, but I'd be happy to do so to make it happen. She has said she wants to fight in this country and I'm the only real opponent over here. I'm sure a fight between the two of us would sell out."

On February 26, 2003 at Marriott Hotel in Bristol, U.K., Jane (140 lbs) won by a TKO over Borislava Goranova (149 lbs) at 1:49 in the seventh round. As in their previous two bouts, the durable Goranova boxed cautiously while Couch scored easily but couldn't put her away with one punch. "She was very strong once again and her right jab was rock-solid. I've boxed her three times in the last seven months and I don't want to see her again!", said Couch, who finally earned the stoppage by landing a flurry of leather after she had trapped Goranova in a corner. Couch's team expressed their delight that she had stopped Goranova inside the scheduled distance this time. Goranova fell to 2-5-0 (0 KO).

Couch had promoted the three-fight Marriott card, on which it had originally been announced that Polish champion Aga Rylik would defend her WBF junior welterweight title against Couch but Polish Boxing Promotion denied to Women's Boxing Page that any such agreement was ever made. Goranova was apparently brought in at short notice to keep the card afloat, and she arrived 9 lbs over the expected weight. Jane Couch now says she's looking for American opponents.

On May 15, 2003 at Hand Equestrian Center in Clevedon, U.K., Jane advanced to 20-4-0 (8 KO) with an eight-round (78-75) decision over Larisa Berezenko of Kiev, Ukraine, a kickboxer and 2002 world amateur champion making her pro boxing debut. Couch won the opening rounds but Berezenko came on stronger in the later rounds despite getting a bloody nose in the sixth. According to Jane's trainer Tex Woodward, it was a competitive fight. He tells me "Berezenko had all the awkwardness of an experienced kick- boxer. Couch showed the more polished skills and held on to a quickly established lead despite a last round onslaught by tough girl Larisa. It was a competitive contest enjoyed by a good crowd who showed their appreciation of both boxers with loud applause." Jane told local media that "she (Larisa) was very experienced and a really awkward opponent. It took me a few rounds to work her out and it was a good learning fight. She held a lot, switched stance and kept moving out of range. But when I made her nose bleed in the sixth round, she had trouble breathing and I knew then that I had her."

On June 21, 2003 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Lucia Rijker (138 lbs) of the Netherlands, fighting out of Los Angeles, posted a unanimous shut out (80-72,80-72,80-72) eight-round decision over Jane (140 lbs). Rijker looked confident and fought most of the bout with her hands down, while peppering Couch with strong rights, stiff jabs and vicious uppercuts. Couch stayed in front of Rijker the whole way and made her pay for her hands-low stance occasionally when she connected with hard shots of her own, some of which stunned Rijker. Rijker landed two powerful rights to Couch's head with about 30 seconds left in the seventh round, and when the bell sounded Couch appeared to have some trouble locating her own corner. According to Couch, "I have been in with tougher punchers, but she is definitely a great fighter, probably the greatest women's boxer in the world. She hit me with a right hand in the first round that busted my right eardrum and I couldn't hear a thing." Rijker complimented Couch after the fight, saying "It was a tough fight and Couch is an amazing opponent. She is a courageous woman. I tried to knock her out the whole time. I hit her with some great shots. I absolutely was trying to finish her the whole time." Rijker advanced to 16-0-0 (14 KO) while Couch dropped to 20-5-0 (8 KO) with the loss.

On September 21, 2003 at Marriott Hotel, Bristol, UK, Jane (137 lbs) won a ten-round (99-92) decision over Brenda Bell Drexel (5'2½", 143½ lbs) of San Marcos, Texas. This was not an easy win for Couch despite the lop-sided score, as Bell Drexel forced her to work hard. Couch said after the fight, "She was very, very strong. I tried to get involved in a fight early on to go the short route and my trainer said 'forget it'. In the end I had to go the long way and box her. I was really tired, but the crowd kept me going." Couch used her reach and height advantage to control the first three rounds but Bell Drexel came ready to mix it up at close quarters, tagged Couch with a hard right hook in the fourth, and came on well in the sixth. In the later rounds Bell Drexel's punching became less accurate as she tired, so that Couch was able to take the fight long and mount a high-pressure finish to make sure of the decision. Bell Drexel fell to a deceptive 5-21-2 (0 KO). (I say deceptive because she's fought a tough schedule and often away from home).  The bout should have been for the WBF Junior Welterweight title, but Bell Drexel came in 3½ lbs too heavy.
 

On December 21, 2003 at Marriott Hotel in Bristol, UK, Jane (144 lbs) won an eight-round unanimous 80-73 decision over Brenda Bell Drexel (150 lbs) of San Marcos, Texas. After a feeling-out opening round, Couch controlled the second and third with well-timed jabs and right hooks to the head of Bell Drexel. Couch connected with punishing combinations to the American's head and body in the fourth but Bell Drexel landed stood her ground and returned fire at close quarters. Couch stepped up her work rate as Bell Drexel flagged in the late rounds but could not put the durable Texan away. Couch's trainer and manager Tex Woodward says: "Jane boxed more thoughtfully this time and was a clear winner, but Brenda must be given credit for never stopping trying, looking for that 'big punch' right up to the last bell. As last time it was a pleasure working with Brenda, and her trainer John Roppolo, they are both great ambassadors for boxing". Bell Drexel fell to 5-22-2 (0 KO).

On February 29, 2004 at the Marriott Hotel in Bristol, UK, Jane (144 lbs) won a six-round points decision over Borislava Goranova (142 lbs) of Sofia, Bulgaria. Goranova fell to 2-7-0 (0 KO) with her fourth loss to Couch.

On April 3, 2004 in Visé, Belgium, Nathalie Toro of Liège, Belgium won a 10-round unanimous (97-94, 96-94, 97-94) decision over Jane for the vacant Women's European (EBU) Light Welterweight Title. WBAN's insider who was present at the fight said that it was an "excellent" bout. Toro improved to 11-0 (5 KO) with the win.

On June 12, 2004 at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, Jane (140 lbs) won the NABA and IWBF Junior Welterweight titles from former Canadian national amateur champion Jaime Clampitt (139 lbs) of Narragansett, Rhode Island by a close but unanimous (96-94,96-94, 96-95) decision. This was a 10-round co-main-event slugfest that had the crowd on its feet at times. Neither boxer backed off throughout the fight, in which Clampitt battled with a mouse under her left eye from the middle rounds on and with a bloody nose in the final round. Couch had a height and reach advantage and also outworked Clampitt by doubling up her punches to the head and body. Clampitt countered with left and right hook combinations. She backed Couch against the ropes several times and worked her body, but she could not deter Couch from coming forward to press her attack. Neither fighter was ever in serious trouble. Jane Couch improved her record to 24-6-0 (8 KOs), while Clampitt, who had dedicated the fight to her trainer Tiny Ricci, who passed away only two days earlier, fell to 14-3 (5 KO).

Jane told Bill Lupper of Fightnews.com: "I knew that this was going to be a brutal fight because I knew that I had to win 8 out of 10 rounds. I did win the fight and I won it cleanly. But if you look at the scores, and it looks like a close fight, but it wasn’t a close fight. I boxed her cleanly. I have fought all the top girls in the world and I give them a good fight. On any given day I can beat anybody. She is a great fighter and all that I care about is women’s boxing and that was a great fight for women’s boxing. It was a good fight with two well matched fighters. I am 35 years old and they said I was over the hill and I could not do it. Well I did it and I am going home to England with a belt.” Jane added "(Clampitt) is a strong girl. I'll definitely give her a rematch.''

Jane Couch was named WBAN's Fighter of the Month for July 2004.

On December 2, 2004 at the Thistle Hotel in Bristol, England, Jane (141 lbs) won a six-round unanimous decision over Larisa Berezenko (141 lbs) of Kiev, Ukraine. Jane improved her record to 25-6-0 (8 KOs) while Berezenko, the 2002 world amateur champion, fell to 0-3-0 as a pro boxer.  Jane Couch promoted the card herself.


Jane battles 100-degree heat and Jessica Rakoczy in July 2005
© copyrighted photo taken by Jessica Trevino

On July 21, 2005 at the Palace Indian Gaming Center, in Lemoore, California, Jessica Rakoczy (5'8", 133 lbs) of Las Vegas retained her IBA World Lightweight title and won the vacant WBC Lightweight title when she stopped Jane (133½ lbs) of Fleetwood, U.K. in the sixth round. The first round was close but Rakoczy outboxed Couch the rest of the way and Couch was soon red-faced from the combination of Jessica's punches and the intense heat ... the fight was the first on a card held outdoors while the temperature was reportedly 104 degrees!  WBAN's insider said that when the bout was stopped with Couch taking punishment in a corner in the sixth,  some people were upset and thought that it was stopped too soon. For more photos of this bout by Jessica Trevino see Photo Gallery #273 on the WBAN Records Member Site.

On November 12, 2005 at the Thistle Hotel in Bristol, England Jane won a six-round 59-55 decision over Oksana Chernikova of Latvia who fell to 2-1 (0 KO's) with the loss.

On December 5, 2005 at the Palais Omnisport in Bercy, Paris, France, Myriam Lamare of Marseille, France TKO'd Jane with seven seconds left in the third round for the vacant WIBF Junior Welterweight and Lamare's WBA Junior Welterweight title. WBAN correspondent Ewan Whyte wrote that "after a rollicking from Lamare's trainer for going backwards and letting Couch take the initiative in the first round, Lamare stood her ground in the second and third and muscled it out with her. Very quickly her class began to tell, and she got the upper hand.  Lamare landed a right cross and began to open up. Within 10 to 15 seconds she had Couch flat-footed and staggering in the centre of the ring. To me (and obviously to the referee as well) it looked as though Couch was about to get hurt - perhaps quite badly -- she has this bullock-like strength, Lamare -- but at the actual moment the referee stopped the fight, Couch appeared to be regrouping and there were only 7 seconds to go to the bell, so she was very angry with the stoppage. Someone explained that the referee did not have the option of giving Couch a standing eight count and he obviously was not prepared to take the risk of letting it continue."  Myriam Lamare advanced her pro record to 12-0 (7 KO's) with the win while Jane fell to 26-8-0 (8 KOs).

On February 25, 2006 at the Whitchurch Leisure Centre in Bristol, U.K., Jane defeated Galina Giumliiska of Sofia, Bulgaria by a third-round TKO. According to trainer Tex Woodward, "Jane hardly worked up a sweat and said afterwards, 'After all that training and not having to expend too much energy I would like to get back in the ring again as soon as possible'". Jane improved to 27-8-0 (9 KO's) while Giumiliiska fell to 4-8-0.

On September 23, 2006 at the Isleta Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a near-capacity crowd of 2500 saw local favorite Holly Holm (5'8", 140 lbs) win a 10-round unanimous (100-90) decision over Jane (139 lbs) defending her IBA Junior Welterweight title.  According to local reports, Holm used her left to control the early going but Jane picked up her pace in the fourth and began to land with a counter right in the later rounds.  Jane's best round may have been the seventh when she successfully mixed it up with Holm, who nevertheless put on a strong flurry late. Couch landed several hard straight rights near the end of the eighth but Holm withstood the barrage and they went toe to toe in the final round.  Jane had done special training to deal with the high altitude (Albuquerque is about a mile high, like Denver) and stayed strong until the end, but Holly Holm improved her record to 15-1-2 (5 KO's) with the decision. 

On June 20, 2007 in Masuntuckett, Connecticut, Jamie Clampitt (136 lbs) defeated Jane (139 lbs) by a ten-round unanimous decision in a rematch of their earlier battle, for the IWBF Jr Welterweight title. According to a report by Ron Samul of Northeast Boxing News, "Clampitt came out with aggressive punching, constantly moving and turning her body away from the straight punching Couch. In the first few rounds, Clampitt had control and scored well. The middle rounds were slower for Clampitt and she began to sit a bit and feel the power of Couch’s busy, straightforward attack. By the last few rounds, while Couch had a surge of power, Clampitt managed to hold her off and finish strong."

“I felt good in the first four or five rounds,” Clampitt said. “I actually felt like I hit a wall, I don’t know if I was a little dehydrated. I just felt like my legs couldn’t move. Jane’s a busy, busy fighter, and I just wanted to make sure trying to move and use the jab. I found it a little difficult for me five through seven, eight I started picking it up and nine and ten I felt good.” When asked about using her shoulder in the middle rounds to block and give some different looks, Clampitt said, “I was just trying to mix it up. I didn’t want to fight this fight like I fought the last one.”   Clampitt improved to 19-4-1 (7 KOs) while Couch fell to 28-10-0 (9 KOs).

On December 8, 2007 in Le Cannet, France, Anne-Sophie Mathis (141 lbs) of Dombasle, France TKO'd Jane in the second round of a scheduled six-rounder.  According to a report by WBAN correspondent Ewan Whyte, "(Couch) took a clobbering, admittedly, in the first round, but the second was only 30 seconds old when the referee decided he'd seen enough and sprang to her rescue, sparing Couch an even more ignominious fate". Couch protested the stoppage but Mathis opined that "It's true the decision was a bit hard on her, but I was about to finish her off anyway... She'd have gone down seconds later."  Mathis improved to 17-1-1 (15 KOs) with the convincing win while the 39-year-old Couch fell to 28-11-0 (9 KO's). 

Jane announced her retirement from boxing in December, 2008. She will continue her connection with the sport as a promoter.

Jane can be contacted by email to janeycouch@aol.com.

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Page last updated: Sunday December 16, 2012

 
     
     
     
     
     
 

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