Like so many successful builders, Francis began his involvement in wrestling as a participant. Developing his skills as a member of the Lakeview High School wrestling squad, he claimed OFSAA silver in 1978, was a Canadian Junior Wrestling silver medallist in 1978 and 1979, and earned CIAU gold for Lakehead University in 1981.
Named head coach of the Lakehead University Wrestling Team in 1985, he set upon a path to return Thunder Bay to a centre for wrestling excellence. Achieving his goal, his wrestlers have ranked amongst the best in Canada including CIAU gold medallists Rob Smyth, Mike Thomas and Justin BeauParlant. Earning LU a regional development centre designation by the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association in 1990, he has brought a number of competitions to Thunder Bay including the 1996 Olympic Trials, the 2000 and 2001 CIAU and 2000 Canadian Senior Nationals and the first ever International Women's Tournament.
With a belief in the ability of wrestling to teach life skills and provide excellent opportunities for youth, he has worked hard at building wrestling throughout the region and the province. Serving on the Boards of the Ontario and Northwestern Ontario Amateur Wrestling Associations, he has served as the regional clubs President and helped to establish a women's program in 1993.
One of few in Canada to achieve a Level 5 National Coaching Certification, his expertise has been in great demand. Assigned coaching duties all around the world, he has taken teams to competitions in Japan, England, Czechoslovakia and Turkey for such events as the World University Games and the Manchester Challenge Cup. Named Ontario University Athletic Association Coach of the Year for men in 1994, '95, '98 and '01 and for women in 2000, he garnered the 1995 CIAU Wrestling Coach of the Year honours and earned the title of Head Coach of the Canadian National Junior Wrestling Team in 1999. With such an outstanding record of success and a true commitment to excellence, no doubt this builder will continue to add to his rich history of success in the years to come.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 29, 2002