New league to be launched in September with Sky to broadcast eight fight nights
Boxing promotion has been described as akin to the wild west, as complex as politics and as changeable as the moons, but it has not stopped Susannah Schofield OBE, a British businesswoman and entrepreneur, launching the first all-women fight league for boxing on Tuesday.
Unified Promotions will begin in September with all-female cards, and eight fight nights scheduled on a Sky HD platform to take place every three weeks.
Timely, indeed, on the eve of one the biggest women’s fights ever to take place in the UK this weekend when Katie Taylor, the undisputed lightweight world champion, takes on Natasha Jonas in Manchester. Women’s boxing continues to capture the imagination of the public, climbing in popularity with the prominence of champions such as Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall.
That resonance for women’s boxing, notably over the last year, was not lost on Schofield who has cut a swathe for women in business – publishing a magazine of the same name – and showing her savvy as the former commercial director at Royal Mail where, she says: “It was never an issue there as a woman and Royal Mail is 90 per cent male”.
In her current role as director general of the Direct Selling Association, as well as being CEO of a successful fan engagement sports App Schofield, 45, conveys a fearlessness about the ‘new world’ she is in, and making it accessible as a credible sport and thus a career for them. “We’ve had some incredible athletes emerge from the Olympics and elite amateurs, but then there’s a gulf. It’s about creating a gateway for women to thrive in this sport, where the focus is on them.”
Schofield is aware of the history, moreover, of boxers like Jane Couch forced to go to court to gain a licence 23 years ago. “We forget about the battles that women have had, and not really that long ago. Even to get a licence to do this, vis-à-vis Jane Couch. I think we’re so lucky in the western world that actually we take for granted as women all the liberties we have.
“I’ve always worked in a male dominated environment. From the Royal Mail which is 90 per cent men to football which is still dominated by men, and now to boxing. I’ve never felt it’s held me back. We are saying to women ‘come and join us’.”