TWO women have shown their courage by stepping into the boxing ring to help a close cause of a friend.

Melissa Pettigrew, 42, and Catherine Cisse, 43, fought at a white collar boxing charity event in February at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester to raise funds for Wigan and Leigh Hospice.

The pair supported the Hindley hospice, which looked after their friend Claire Lawrenson's mum Doreen, 81, who died there last year.

Leigh Journal:

Claire with her mum Doreen and dad Joseph

They were put through their paces in eight weeks of intensive training in preparation for the big night, where a number of matches took place.

And flyweight Commonweath Games gold medalist Lisa Whiteside, who Claire knows through a mutual friend, also sent the white collar boxers a voice message to wish them well ahead of their fights.

Lisa's dad died from cancer so helping a hospice is a cause close to her heart.

The Chorley fighter also sent a signed t-shirt to raise more money for the hospice.

The friends raised more than £2,000 for the hospice through separate fundraising pages.

Leigh Journal:

Catherine and Melissa

Leigh Journal:

The boxers line up. Melissa is second from left and Catherine is second from right

Leigh Journal:

Melissa and Catherine next to the boxing ring

Catherine said: "Both of us wanted to raise money for this local charity after Claire's mum Doreen passed away from cancer.

"The care this beautiful lady and her family received from the hospice during her illness was astounding.

"Over the past few years I have lost six stone so I also looked forward to the challenge of pushing myself to get fitter.

"I was definitely out of my comfort zone but the fight night was amazing.

"I managed to win my fight and I also won an award for raising the most money in our camp."

Melissa, who has been friends with Claire for 37 years, was defeated in her bout but her opponent was much taller than her.

She said: "The hospice supported my friend and her family through such a difficult time - it is such an amazing charity.

"I felt completely useless as to what to say or how to help my dear friend and her family at such a sad time, so I decided to sign up for a white collar fighter event with Catherine."

Claire, from Lowton, is "grateful" to her friends for their efforts.

She added that "they have raised an incredible amount" of money.