Franco, a French-speaking Quebecer, was born and raised in Saint-Alexandre-de-Kamouraska, Quebec, a rural French Canadian town of about 1,500 people located on the southern slope of the St. Lawrence River 200 km northeast of Québec City, the youngest of four children of France St-Pierre and Robert Richard. His father was a papermaker and maple syrup producer, and his mother was a stay home mother and librarian. Franco describes his parents as being very involved in his upbringing and being exposed to a variety of interests: he recalls being pulled out of school to go to science museums or to listen to a specific author read at a book store. As a child Franco had a difficult childhood attending pre-school with problems of concentration and discipline caused by ADHD. After his parents had been advised by a doctor to give him some pills of Ritalin, they decided to enroll him in martial arts hoping to direct his excess energy and assertiveness in a positive manner. As he grew up he watched fanatically old Kung Fu films by Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li, which was his inspiration to learn martial arts. Franco was so inspired by them that while he was playing with friends, he would imitate the martial arts moves that he had seen, practicing everywhere he can. In addition to his studies and martial arts, Franco also took private piano lesson every week under the rules of his mother who must have known from an early age that Franco had a streak for the arts and showmanship.
Already a karate black belt at 17, Franco Richard is one martial artist who was not influenced by the new wave of “mixed martial arts”. Instead of following the well-worn path of many fighters who specialized in kickboxing or wrestling, Franco found his calling in “Kuo Shu 國術 – a two character word that means “national art” that is now recognized as synonymous with traditional Chinese martial arts. Today when using the world “Kuoshu,” there are two possible meanings. The first refers broadly to all Chinese martial arts. The second refers to a particular type of full contact fighting contest that allows for kicking and punching, but with the added excitement of high amplitude throws and takedowns on a raised platform called Lei Tai in mandarin.
When it comes to Kuoshu-style Lei Tai fighting, few have enjoyed as much success on the International scene as Franco Richard, first as a fighter, coach and now as a promoter of the sport. A two-time Lei Tai gold medalists, Franco has competed in many Lei Tai tournaments all over the world (from 1996 to 2004), compiling an overall amateur record of 17–3, including 1 silver medal and one bronze medal in Shuai Jiao (Chinese wrestling). Over the course of his career, he has competed in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, being always ranked as one of the best in the divisions, thanks to his determination, incredible skills, and combative spirit. When he wasn’t training or at school, Franco worked as a doorman in nightclubs.
Franco Richard’s path to becoming a multi-millionaire is one of the more unique stories you’ll come across. As a man who enjoys taking risks and challenges, Franco started betting on combat sports in the early 2000s. His starting bankroll was allegedly a few hundred dollars, through which he won millions. You may have heard the story: he turned his life saving of about $17,450 into a cool $1.7 Million over a couple years. By the time he was 27, Franco had acquired a reputation as the go-to experts on how to make money betting on fights, and was frequently guest on various radio programs, morning news shows, and television networks discussing combat sports betting on a weekly basis.
Relocating to Taiwan in the early 2000’s to study Kung Fu, Franco broke into the gambling industry by working for one of the biggest bookmaker in Asia, where he learned all the good, the bad and the ugly being both a oddsmaker and handicapper. This laid the foundation that gave him the invaluable perspective of how lines are set, line movements, how public perception affects the line, and the ability to spot value. In 2004, Franco founded online gaming venture Bet on Combat®, a company that provides its clients with advice on who to bet on and how to bet them, similar to a stock broker advising its client on which stock or fund to invest their money in. As the face of the Bet on Combat brand, Franco’s winning reputation increased in the mid-2000s as online gaming’s popularity surged. By 2010, Franco was Asia’s biggest combat sports betting consultant, with an impressive client list of 100 “high net worth individuals” whose minimum bet was $10,000.
Franco also gained acclaim from a few highly-publicized high stakes wagers he’s made with multiple million dollar winning bets over the years. His first notable wager was in 2004, when he placed his life saving money of $17,450 on fellow French Canadian prospect Georges St-Pierre at UFC 46: Supernatural and doubled his money. He then had the $37,000 bankroll to start his combat sports betting career. Then, three year later he made international news in the spring of 2007 when he won more than a quarter million dollars ($259,000.00 to be exact) betting on Matt Serra to win the UFC Welterweight title at odds of 7-1 at UFC 69: Shootout. Perhaps one of the biggest bets of his career was in 2015 when he placed a bet of $1 million on Floyd Mayweather to beat Conor McGregor. A bet that made him $1 Million in profit. (A bet odds of 1.10).
His expertise in negotiations and his passion for combat sports naturally brought him to the world of athlete representation. Now recognized as one of the top agent in the combat sports, Franco Richard has secured some of the highest-paying endorsement deals for its fighters and has negotiated contracts with some of the top brands in the world, including Bud Light, Gatorade, and MicroTech among many others. He effectively assisted in acquiring lucrative deals for such notable fighters as Li Jun Fa and James Wu.
Francombat’s athletes compete in the UFC, ONE Championship, Bellator, and other promotions. His vision came down to three clear ideas: Recommit to the concept that quality talent matters, embrace technology instead of fighting it, and think global. Fourteen years later, Francombat is the largest, most admired management company in the world. Franco, who can be seen at almost every UFC event, built his company on loyalty and is willing to go to war for his fighters. Franco has been managing top fighters for the past decades now. If he isn’t with his family or negotiating contracts, you will find him on the mats rolling with his clients.
Franco’s success story starts where most entrepreneurs begin: with a big dream and zero cash. He discovered a simple truth: Launching a sport is no small task. No matter how big an idea you think you have, it still takes a lot of work, and a ton of cash.
In August 2011, Franco wrote to renowned Chinese Kung Fu masters from around the world, intimating that he wished to organize the first Professional Lei Tai Championship, in order to inspire more people to learn Kung Fu, stating, “I want to hold the first professional Lei Tai Championship™ event in the world in the process of creating a legitimate and profitable combat sport, and consistently the next big thing in martial arts entertainment.”
The first official Lei Tai “revival” meeting took place on 1st October 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to exchange ideas and discuss regulations for PRO LEI TAI® that will reward a Kung Fu fighting style. His proposal was eagerly received. Soon the first “think tank” was formed and took on the responsibility of training referees and judges for the upcoming inaugural Lei Tai Championship™ event.
But Franco understood his project was going nowhere without state approval (The sport was not sanctioned by any states or country). From there, he embarked upon a journey of working diligently to educate politicians and appointed officials on the merits, safety and economic impact the sport of Lei Tai could bring to the province of Quebec. During this time, Franco accomplished what many would have thought as impossible, including the recognition of Lei Tai as a professional sport, establishment of a worldwide Lei Tai circuit, and permission for events to have matches under the PRO LEI TAI® Rules and Regulations.
It’s all happening…
After launching his career via the sports betting industry, Franco has since branched out into numerous other business sectors, including a burgeoning media group and his current passion for all things Bitcoin.
Franco’s involvement with Bitcoin began back in 2011, when a friend offered him some bitcoin in exchange for cash and forgot about them. After figuring out the password to his virtual wallet, and seeing how valuable those bitcoins had become, he sold off a portion of them and launched Bitcoinaire®, a cryptocurrency hedge fund focusing exclusively on ventures, tokens, and projects related to blockchain tech, digital currency, and crypto assets. In less than eight months, Franco grew Bitcoinaire into the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, as of Mars 2021.
But Franco association with the virtual currency extends far beyond just owning it. He sees bitcoin as a vital tool for removing government control over money and economic activity. The relatively young industry of digital assets caught his attention because of its ability to provide the opportunity for financial freedom for people, regardless of education or background.
The price was still under one U.S. Dollar each, but he already knew that it was one of the most important inventions since the internet. It was a wise investment by someone who stumbled across bitcoin before many others did. “I was buying fake money,” he said. Since then, the cryptocurrency has seen large fluctuations in its value by almost 10,000% with one BTC being valued at $47,350 at the current Bitcoin Price Index.
In January 2021, as the dollar price of bitcoin surged to an all-time high of $52140, he tweeted that 70 percent of his net worth was in crypto assets. Soon after, Franco began angel investing in notable companies including Ripple, Coinbase, Tesla, Uber, and Canopy.