LOOKING back, Rendall Munroe finds reasons to be glad he didn’t become a world champion.
“I turned pro [in 2003] because [late uncle Dave] ‘Sticky’ [Pratt] said: ‘You’ve got a kid and you need to make some money out of boxing,’” he said. “Dad told me: ‘When you get titles, then the money will come.’
“The goal was to earn enough money to have a house to live in and have another one to rent out. If I had won the world title and made two or three defences, I would have done that, but where would I be now?
“I would be just roaming around doing nothing with my days. Because I didn’t win the world title, I go into schools working with kids and have my own gym. I believe that is what I was meant to do – and I’ve ended up with two houses anyway.”
Munroe, who won Commonwealth and European super-bantamweight titles and challenged for the WBC belt in his 34-fight career, always did make sense of setbacks – “things happen for a reason” – and believes there was meaning behind a glum-looking Joe Ducker walking into his gym in Leicester a couple of years ago.
Munroe and Ducker trained alongside each other at the Shinfields’ gym from where “The Boxing Binman” fought throughout his pro career and Munroe said: “Joe is the reason I got my trainer’s licence. He came in my gym one day and didn’t look happy and asked me to train him. I wasn’t sure I could do it.
“I still get a buzz from sparring and thought I wouldn’t be able to spar if I was a licensed trainer. I went to see the Board and they said: ‘Of course you can spar your fighters. It should improve them.’
“I got my licence and started training Joe. He won one, lost one and asked me if he was good enough to win the Midlands title. I told him: ‘Of course you are.’”
Munroe was proved right, Ducker taking the Midlands Area lightweight title off Ishmael Ellis in Solihull last July with a 10-round points win. Ducker looks set to resume his pro career after a health scare and Sean Bruce is the latest addition to Munroe’s stable.
“I remember Sean as a good amateur [with Earl Shilton ABC] and he said he was boxing unlicensed to rebuild his confidence,” said Munroe. “I told him: ‘You’re wasting your time boxing unlicensed. You’re too good for that. You should turn pro.’”
Bruce has his second pro fight on manager Carl Greaves’ show in Leicester on March 11 when another of Munroe’s fighters, Lianne Bush, will also be matched.
Munroe says training fighters has saved him from the temptation of returning to the ring. Always a fitness fanatic, Munroe entered natural body building competitions after retiring in 2014 after defeat to Josh Warrington and toyed with the idea of fighting again.
“I could still fight again,” said the 42-year-old, “but I wouldn’t get the same opportunities. I don’t want people paying me to get their name on my record. I’m not too proud to get up and go to work like everyone else.
“I could get paid £50,000 for a fight – and spend it all on hospital bills.
“There’s always fresh blood coming through on the conveyor belt and I decided to step off with my head held high instead of falling off it and having people talk about how good I used to be. People end up remembering you the wrong way if you carry on too long.”
Munroe will be remembered as a fighter unfortunate to miss out on winning a world belt. He had two wins over Kiko Martinez in European title defences and on a memorable night in Coventry in April 2010, he thrashed Mexico’s Victor Terrazas, who went on to win a version of the world title.
“When I got my chance (to win the WBC title), I had to go to Japan (to challenge Toshiaki Nishioka in October, 2010). If you look at the end of the fight, I started crying and punched my corner. I knew that was my big chance and I might not get another.”
Martinez got more opportunities after Munroe beat him twice. Munroe took the European title off the Spaniard in Nottingham in March, 2008 with a majority points vote and 11 months later, he dished out a 12-round beating in Barnsley.
“I tell people: ‘Don’t write Kiko off,’” said Munroe. “People seem to think: ‘He’s been around forever, he must be ancient,’ but he wasn’t that old when I beat him. He was 21 years old the first time I beat him and I was 27.”
More than a decade on from their two fights, Martinez is still fighting, while Munroe has found a new focus.
“I get the same enjoyment out of training,” he said, “and I don’t get punched in the face anymore! As a fighter, I was world class, but I’m still an apprentice as a trainer, I’m still learning. When I boxed, I was always watching fighters who I wanted to be as good as and now I study the coaches who are at the top.
“I have the insight because I’ve been there and done it myself.”