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The odd ruckus with authority aside, he did well enough academically to return in 1983 to the city of his birth to study history at Magdelen College. He was certainly a tall and handsome bruiser, but representing the university in the light-heavyweight division at the annual Town vs Gown fixture, he took an unambiguous pummelling.
Rendall fell in love with boxing as a boy and as a young man went so far as to have a crack himself. He went on to write about that only bout in This Bloody Mary Is The Last Thing I Own (1997), his memoir of a decade devoted to the sweet science, as he liked to call it, the sibilants hissing on his tongue.
And if it sounds like a gimmick, don’t be fooled: Uziel’s smart script only works when told in reverse, revealing secrets and confidences at just the right times.
But however much he romanticised the ring's fallen heroes, the more fallen the better, he never quite shed the outsider's tendency to ironise.
Where he couldn't land fluent blows in the ring, he had no such difficulty in print.
The entire book – Jonathan Rendall at his brilliant best – is a bravura performance lacing screwball comedy with a romantic celebration of failure.
But then the story was always the thing for a gifted, even hypnotic raconteur who had the power to make friends and readers laugh and weep.
The terrible sadness is that his own life story was one he couldn't spin out.