At Francis Fortunato’s latest fight in his hometown of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the man tasked with filming the bouts was mugged, and his assailants stayed to watch the remaining bouts, quietly daring anyone to challenge them. Spectators were careful not to take their phones out, lest they become targets in an area that police won’t even visit at night.  For Fortunato, this is an inconvenient reality, and one that doesn’t deter him from pursuing his dream of becoming a world champion, or his wife from cheering him on at ringside.


Fortunato has never known anything different.  Growing up in an area rife with crime and poverty, the super featherweight turned to boxing at the behest of his grandfather, himself a local celebrity of sorts, who had amassed his own professional boxing record of 11-8 through during the 70s and 80s.  His grandfather, known as El Gallito Frias, has been in Fortunato’s corner for all of his 315 fights.  The sixty year old former fighter has served as a father figure for Fortunato throughout his life, teaching him that “Protect yourself at all times” doesn’t just apply in the ring.


The 20 year old pugilist began fighting at the age of 8, accumulating an impressive 300-8 amateur record, along with numerous national championships before embarking on his professional career in February of 2018.  Fortunato stayed busy in his first year as a professional, fighting and winning seven times. 


With a wife and a son to support, the young father chose to devote himself completely to his pursuit of a world title, and signed a managerial contract with Payne Boxing in 2018.  It was a step he hoped would eventually lead to his relocating to the United States, and providing a better life for his son.  While Fortunato has lived a happy life, it has been a life stricken with  poverty. For this fighter, his wife and son, boxing is more than just a sport.  It’s a road that will lead them to a better, more fruitful life.  It’s a weight that Fortunato carries with him each time he steps through the ropes, and one that any opponent that stands in his way will feel with each blow.


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