Fight for the Cure’s Duane Francis on getting into the ring for cancer patients

Signature fundraiser for Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation to provide support, education, and hope to individuals and their loved ones affected by the disease

Duane Francis Fight for the Cure
Duane Francis, portfolio manager and senior financial advisor with Capital Wealth Partners/Mandeville Private Client, is one of 12 participants of this year's Fight for the Cure, a white-collar charity boxing gala for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Editor's Note is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors and Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties® Inc. Read their stories here.

When Duane Francis was first asked to fight in the white-collar charity boxing gala for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, his response was what you might expect: “Not a chance; are you crazy?”

The portfolio manager and senior financial adviser with Capital Wealth Partners/Mandeville Private Client passed on the opportunity to duke it out in front of a roaring crowd of 1,000 at the 2022 Fight for the Cure (FFTC). 

Sure, a spot had opened up but it wasn’t going to be him throwing his hat in the ring that year.

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Instead, Francis attended the sold-out gala, where he spent the night soaking up the action-packed excitement and energy. When he was next asked to join, he was more emphatic in his reply of “Absolutely”.

After seven months of intense training and fundraising, Francis can’t wait for his big match on Saturday, Oct. 28 at The Westin Ottawa, featuring former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre as special guest.

Francis is one of 12 men participating in the signature fundraiser for the cancer foundation. They’re all first-time boxers with regular jobs or businesses to run. Organizers are hoping to repeat last year’s success of raising more than $1 million through ticket sales, sponsorship and donation pledges.

“I think I’m prepared,” Francis said during an interview at Power Muscle Fitness, located in the basement of Carlingwood Shopping Centre. That’s where the fighters have been getting in boxing shape under the esteemed leadership of Scott Whitteker, CEO of Fight for the Cure. The training has been twice a week since March.

“I really believe I’m ready,” said Francis. “Win or lose, I’m prepared physically, mentally. I really am. I’ve trained hard.”

The audience is also ready. The event sold out faster than a one-two punch combo. 

Fight for the Cure CEO Scott Whitteker with Tricia Ross, manager of events and community engagement for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From the blue team are (from left): Trevor Clark (RE/MAX), Graham Kerr (Royal LePage Performance Realty), Duane Francis (Capital Wealth Partners/Mandeville Private Client), Henric Alfredsson (CanSwede Homes Custom Design & Build) and Joshua Kral (MPN Capital Markets). Missing is Mitchell Cole (Unreserved Brokerage). Photo by Caroline Phillips
From the red team are (from left): Troy McCarney (Inflector Environmental Services), Alain Begin (Valley Flowers), Joseph Pamic (Power-Tek Group), Marc Gravel (Fulltone Media) and Kevin Parent (Ottawa Public Health). Missing is Andrew McWiggan (Acart Communications). Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Bill Deslauriers and Adam Kane (Gifford Carr Insurance Group), seen at Power Muscle Fitness, volunteer with Fight for the Cure in support of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation as trainers and cornermen. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Francis’s support of the ORCF stretches back 20 years, most significantly with his role in co-founding the Take a Swing at Cancer Golf Tournament in 2004 with Ed Hansen, who lost his dad to colon cancer. Francis has seen many friends and family members battle the disease, including his mother-in-law, who lost her life to glioblastoma in 2017.

As proud as Francis is of the golf tournament, he’s looking to raise the stakes with FFTC . “I just thought I could take it higher,” said Francis, who set a lofty goal. “I really just thought: One time, go all out, let’s try and raise $100K. Let’s do something that’s both personally challenging and also a community challenge for me.”

The ORCF provides a wide range of services and resources to help those impacted by cancer. It’s also one of several charities Francis supports.  “My parents have always said to me, ‘Duane, if you have the opportunity to give back, give back’,” said the married father of three sons, ages 22, 19 and 16. He was born and raised in Halifax, to parents who came to Canada from the Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago. Francis went on to study economics at Western University.

The golf tournament organizers include commercial real estate leader Matt Jacques from Royal LePage Performance Realty. He’s been a loyal supporter of the cancer foundation since he boxed in FFTC in 2018.

It was also Jacques who got Francis involved. Said Jacques of his friend: “He’s the type of person who says, ‘If I’m going to do it, I’m going to give it 100 percent. I’m going to work hard. I’m going to show up, I’m going to be there’.”

Jacques knows the transformative experience that awaits this year’s cohort of boxers. “I think, for me, one of the biggest impacts was probably just being able to put myself in an element where I never thought I could do something like this,” said Jacques. “To reap the benefits and the rewards of being involved and staying involved with a great organization like the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation because of the blood, sweat and tears that I went through to prepare for that event; it’s life-changing.”

Matt Jacques hugging his opponent in the ring after their match at the 2018 Fight for the Cure white-collar charity boxing event for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Before Francis even started training, he was in terrific shape. The former national-level soccer player and varsity football player has remained consistently active throughout adulthood. 

Still, the evening training can be exhausting, said Francis, who, at age 52, calls himself the senior citizen of his group. “I’m an early riser; I get up early, at 5:30, and work out. When I’m coming here at 7 or 8 at night, I’m burnt. So, to get in the ring now and fight with these young guys, it’s a lot for me,” said Francis, who spends his work days helping clients, whether it’s to grow their income and investments, come up with strategies to minimize taxes, or make sure they can enjoy an early retirement. 

Late last winter, Francis was one of dozens who attended FFTC’s open tryout session, where Whitteker looked for men and women who matched up in size and age and were committed to fundraising.

Francis is part of the blue team with Henric Alfredsson (CanSwede Homes Custom Design & Build and brother of one of Ottawa’s great sports heroes), Mitchell Cole (Unreserved Brokerage), Joshua Kral (MPN Capital Markets), Graham Kerr (Royal LePage Performance Realty) and Trevor Clark (RE/MAX).

From the red team are Andrew McWiggan (Acart Communications), Joseph Pamic (Power-Tek Group), Alain Begin (Valley Flowers), Marc Gravel (Fulltone Media), current top individual fundraiser Troy McCarney (Inflector Environmental Services) and Kevin Parent (Ottawa Public Health).

Francis is hoping it’s his arm that gets hoisted in the air in victory on Oct. 28, when he’ll be fighting Gravel, 47. “Of course I want to win but I do think, more importantly, winning for me would be raising more money. Honestly, that’s the big thing.”

This year, a fundraising page has also been created by past FFTC fighters as a way of tapping into their own business networks. The alumni group is currently the top fundraiser as the result of a $104,228.30 pledge from The Graham Family Foundation.

To learn more about this year’s FFTC fighters or to access their donation pages, go to

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