Boxing: Binman who never refuses a good scrap
Munroe is tipped to repeat high-visibility feats of Haye and be crowned Britain's fourth world champion
Rendall Munroe is not a household name. Except in his home town of Leicester, where hundreds of households are familiar with the jaunty little figure in the high-vis jacket whose day job is emptying their dustbins while reigning as the super-bantamweight champion of Europe, one of the most successful, yet unacclaimed, fighters in the land.
In Nuremberg last weekend it was all glitter and glamour, with Hayemania now sweeping the nation after our David's dancing demolition of the moribund mammoth who masqueraded as Goliath, opening an exciting new chapter in boxing's own Book of Revelation. But on Friday when Munro makes the fifth defence of his title at a leisure centre in Nottingham, it will be a classic reminder of how the other half fights.
Yet according to his promoter, Frank Maloney, boxing's binman is just two bouts away from joining the Hayemaker, Amir Khan and Carl Froch as a British world champion. Maloney has asked for the contest with the classy Italian Simone Maludrottu to be made an eliminator for the World Boxing Council title held by Japan's Toshiaki Nishioka. "He's one of the old-school fighters, a bit of a throwback," says Maloney of a blue-collar scrapper who has been voted European boxer of the year. "He loves the game and doing a manual job outside boxing helps him. He also revels in all the attention he gets locally but he doesn't let it affect him. He's a joy to work with."
Munro has been on the bins for four years. "It works for me," he says. "It pays the bills and allows me to put my boxing money in the bank". Before that he was a window-maker, worked in a shoe shop selling Doc Martens and became a welder after a year's course. He was made redundant three times. "So when they said to me, 'How about being a bin man?' I thought, 'Yeah, why not? I can do that'. I ain't one for sitting around doing nothing.
"I did quite well at school and left with all my GCSEs. But when school finished, I was gone, that was enough learning for me. What I do now fits in with my boxing." Collecting rubbish runs in the family. His Jamaican-born dad is a roadsweeper. "He always said to me as a kid, 'You're not going out to hang out on the streets. Do something constructive'. And here I am now, cleaning up the town just like him!"
Munroe, 29, had 40 bouts as an amateur before turning pro five years ago, and has lost only once in 20 fights. "For me, boxing has always been about enjoyment. Whatever the result, even as an amateur I've always been back in the gym the next day having a laugh. But here I am, No 1 in Britain, Commonwealth and Europe.
"A lot of people can't make out why I'm still so happy-go-lucky about it. It hasn't gone to my head. I am still Rendall and I always will be. I'll always stop and have a chat.
"Everyone knows me on the bin round, of course. After a fight, I'm there on my next shift and they'll stop me and say well done. They'll leave cakes out, all sorts. I don't think I'll ever change. Sometimes I can be sitting down having a cup of tea and people come in and point me out but really I am just like them, that's the way I like to come across, just an ordinary guy. I don't go around thinking, 'I'm on TV, I am a boxer, I'm this and that'. Rendall ain't no different from anyone else.
"My boxing money is the cream on the cake. I've never asked how much I would get for a fight and I always live within my means. I have to fend for two kids and sometimes a bit of the boxing money helps out.
"I would say I am comfortable. Not in the David Haye or Amir Khan class, of course, but everyone has a different level. I never disrespect anyone but sometimes I think: 'Could Haye or Khan do what I do?' I am training every day and doing a daytime job. But I don't get envious when I see the sort of money the big boys earn. I am happy. It's like what they say, more money brings more stress."
A useful county footballer in his youth, he has a son of eight who is at Leicester City's academy and another of two. His only loss was for the British title. "But I thought I won so I still went out to celebrate – that's the sort of guy I am. After the fight I was laughing, even though my girlfriend was crying. That's life, isn't it? Enjoy it."
The southpaw is a good defensive boxer, rarely getting hit. "That's why I still look 21," he laughs. "I've never been one of these boxers who boasts or bad-mouths people, saying I'm going to do this or that. If you get knocked out, who looks the idiot then?
"People kept saying to me I should build an image for myself. Well, I think I've got one. I'm a binman and my cornermen all come into the ring with high-vis jackets sponsored by the council. Fans come up to me and ask where they can get the jackets – I tell them they're down the market for a quid. So when I get into the ring and look around, I can't believe how many high-vis there are in the crowd. Hundreds of them and I think, 'Cor, they're all for me'. When I finish in this game, I'd love everyone to be saying, 'Hey, remember that Rendall? He was the binman boxer'."
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