It's Fun-roe time
Six months after he was stopped for the first time in his career, 'Boxing Binman' Rendall Munroe will shelve retirement and return to the ring in his home town. Adam Norman went along to the Shinfield gym to find the former world title contender in top form.
Last Updated: 24/04/13 9:09pm
Rendall Munroe just wants to have fun again. And if that means getting back in the ring, so much the better.
The Boxing Binman ends a six-month retirement on May 9 when he debuts in front of the faithful Leicester fans who have followed him around the globe.
Whether it's the start of a 'farewell tour' remains to be seen - neither Munroe nor his long-time friend and manager Mike Shinfield know where the second chapter in his career may lead.
All Rendall knows that it is good to be focusing on boxing again after suffering the disappointment of defeat against Scott Quigg in Manchester last November.
Coming back at super-featherweight - two divisions above where he spent his entire career to date - there's a feeling in the gym that the canvas on which Munroe will return is of the blank variety.
"There's no pressure again now," he told Sky Sports. "It's Rendall having fun like it always used to be. People were saying 'he's not got his job back so he's got to keep boxing', but it's nothing of the kind. The idea was once I'd had enough of boxing, I'd empty bins. I was comfortable there, I was going to be happy.
"The idea was take my mind off boxing, but when I didn't get my job back I said 'alright, I'm going to go to the gym now'. Most people who retire get fat and go to the pub. But not me. I still come here, I still enjoy it so why stop."
Munroe famously divided his time between his Tuesday to Friday job with Biffa and training, earning him the moniker 'The Boxing Binman' with his cornermen and fans donning high-viz jackets on fight night.
However, in the year leading up to the Quigg fight a sponsor was found so that Munroe could quit the day job and concentrate on fighting and working his way back into world title contention following defeat to then-WBC champion Toshiaki Nishioka in Japan.
Great in theory, but the plan didn't work out. The extra responsibilty and the change of regime did not suit Munroe, and by the time the rematch with Quigg came around he'd just about had enough.
Shinfield is unable to put his finger on what exactly went wrong, just that the spark was no longer there.
"You do things at the time with the best will in the world," he said. "It's easy in hindsight. I don't think it was the wrong thing to do, but he always enjoyed his job on the bins and he had good mates there.
"It was the ideal job, four days a week and out in the fresh air. There was no pressure at all, and then we got him the sponsorship where he could finish the job.
"But Rendall's hyperactive, he's not the sort to sit around and do nothing. It's difficult to say what went wrong, it was an interest in his life that was no longer there."
However, after he lost to Quigg and decided to call it day, his old job at Biffa was no longer available. With time on his hands there was only one thing to do - return to the gym.
"After that fight everything just fell in on top of me really," he said. "The mental and physical side, lots of little things. Up until that point I was enjoying life, having fun being the binman, I enjoyed the job, training and fighting and going back to the job.
"I was one of the boys. Come another fight, it was time to get back to the boxing. When the work stopped it was like OK, it's a serious thing now, it's boxing and nothing else. The pressure started to come and it wasn't an enjoyment thing, it was serious.
"Don't get me wrong it was always serious, but sometimes having too much on your mind can swallow you up. Being on the bins I could always go back to being a normal lad and enjoying myself.
"But when I stopped the bins it was just boxing, boxing, boxing. It (the sponsorship deal) was one of those things. If I never did it, I'd always have turned round and said I should have tried it because it might have worked, and obviously I've done it and it still didn't work.
"I don't dwell on the past. We tried it and it didn't work."
Munroe is bitter that he was no longer wanted by his former employers.
"The idea was to go back on the bins to give me something to do while I'm working on other things. I had offers from several councils to go on the bins. But I worked with a good team for 8-9 years, I was comfortable and happy there.
"If I wanted to worked on the bins I could have gone to any of them, but I just wanted to be back with my team. It's Biffa's loss not mine. I was there for eight years, never a day off sick, good publicity. Biffa didn't give me s**t, they gave me unpaid time off and every time I had a training camp they didn't pay me and Mike had to write them a letter to ask them for time off.
"I'd fight on the Saturday and go back on the Tuesday and that was it, I was an ordinary worker. I went to Japan and was back at work the next week.
"But I have another path now. I'm working with Leicester City council now is great, fun and that's how it is."
Munroe's world title fight against Nishioka may have set him up financially, but in boxing terms he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. As new promoter Ricky Hatton said after failing to lure quality opponents, he was in the 'who needs him' club.
"I was told I'm too good for my own good. How that works in the boxing world, I don't know," Munroe reflected. "Ricky was trying to get the fights but people don't want to fight you. Boxing is a business whether people believe it or not. Promoters want to make money, they don't want to break even or lose money.
"I tell people most boxers retire at 34 or 35. If world champions are asking for X-amount of money to fight me because I'm that good, then a promoter's thinking that's a lot of money to put up for a boxer who has only got two or three years left.
"I think if I was 24-25 I would have fought for a number of world titles by now, I'd be a world champion. But that's life and you have to get on with it."
Hatton had a rising star in his stable who happened to be in the same weight class as Munroe, and so it was that Quigg vs Munroe was the only fight out there for the former Commonwealth and European champion.
"I'd done all the hard work to get myself to number one challenger in the world, and the benefits were to go and fight the number two in Britain," he said. "I lost on points to Nishioka. How many people has he knocked out, how many years was he champion? I went from fighting someone who was the best champion around to got getting another shot. I went from No 1 challenger to not being in the top-20.
"I felt disrespected in a way. I don't think I've disrespected anybody in any fight and I'm not one of these guys who says I'm going to do this or do that. Scott was saying this and that and I just thought what's the point. There's no need for that.
"The first fight was the one for me, and it would never have gone 12 rounds. I can say that now but who's going to know. I could see what was happening behind closed doors, I knew that I had to beat him good or I'm getting pushed out the door.
"I was so up for that fight, I was fired up and ready, and it was just one of them things when the fight got stopped. When I lost the second fight I thought sod this, I'm going to do what I want to do."
Which brings us back into the present where Munroe is combining his training with learning to become a fitness coach and working with troubled kids. It's a position that clearly gives him a buzz.
"I'm working with kids that have been excluded from school, trying to get kids educated through sport. The council have helped me out, there's things out there for me. I've always wanted to be a gym instructor, everyone knows I'm a fitness fanatic and I just want to pass on the positive things. I have another path now."
That will not distract him from his second coming as a super-featherweight boxer, when the high-viz jackets will be out in force to see him take on tough journeyman Youssef Al Hamidi in a Leicester nightclub.
"I started boxing at the age of 14 at 8st 10lb. I'm 33 this year and trying to keep to that is hard work," he admitted. "I made the weight because when there's goals, you do it all the time. But when the goals move there's no point.
"When I first won the European title I used to walk round at 9st 4lb, now I'm at 10st. To get the weight down is hard work. I used to say I wasn't bothered about fighting, I was bothered about the scales. Now I'm doing things in training that I wanted to do before but could never do. It's making it more enjoyable.
"I feel a lot stronger and the lads are saying I hit harder and I'm not even trying to hit hard. It's natural strength that I've had to keep under wraps to make the weight. Since the Quigg fight you could say I've changed from a boy to a man!
"We'll only worry about what's in front of us, take it as it comes and enjoy it. Do the work you need to put in and good things will happen.
"Mike and Jason will tell me when I'm ready, my team will tell me who and when I'm fighting and that's how it will always be. I came from knowhere by having fun and listening to what I was told. Who's to say I can't do it all again.
"The fans have been following me around for nine years, and they even came to Japan. It's a big thank you and I've always said I always wanted to fight in Leicester and here's my opportunity.
"It made me who I was, to the point where people don't know me as Rendall, just 'The Boxing Binman'. That's never going to change."