When you work with numbers all day, punching out after a day of work takes on a whole new meaning – especially when you swap the numbers for boxing gloves. This is what Carmin Cappabianca, chartered accountant by day and boxer by night, does at least three times a week. “I started boxing at the beginning of my university career. I needed something to get into and to challenge myself physically and mentally,” explains Cappabianca.
He kept it up long after he graduated from the Schulich School of Business in 2015 and completed the prerequisites to become a chartered accountant. Now 25, Cappabianca works at Ernst and Young (EY) as a senior staff accountant and still trains at Atlas Boxing and Fitness Club at Bridgeland and Dufferin in North York. “It’s got the old school feel of a boxing gym (think Rocky),” says an enthusiastic Cappabianca.
While boxing keeps Cappabianca fit and focused, his mother feels differently about it. “My mother wasn’t too happy with me getting into this sport, especially since my livelihood is my brain.” Cappabianca lives with his family in his childhood home in the Keele and Wilson area. He is the middle child and has two sisters, Maryanne and Alexandra. He describes his Italian background as a mixed Italian breed. “My mother and her parents came from the small town of Pietrapertosa outside of Potenza in Basilicata. My father came from Forcella, Napoli, but he was born in Switzerland because my grandfather was there for work.
Growing up, his grandparents lived with them. His grandmother was disabled so his mom carried on all the Italian traditions on her behalf. “She makes all the traditional dishes from her hometown and carries on all these traditions at Christmas, Easter and Good Friday. And living with my grandfather, I observed traditions such as making tomato sauce, cured meats and wine, which we do every year,” he says. Cappabianca admits that he works extra hard to make his nonno and parents proud. “My nonno sacrificed so much for me by coming here and working in construction. The only way I can pay him back is by being the best person I could be.” Family always comes first for Cappabianca. A few years ago, when his younger sister was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it caught Cappabianca and everyone in his family by surprise.
“It really made me re-evaluate my life and challenge myself. She was a straight-A student but she just crashed. But, with the break from school and a mix of many coping mechanisms, she’s been able to combat it over the years.” Seeing what happened to his sister encouraged Cappabianca to become an advocate for mental health awareness in the workplace. “I want to stop the stigma and shed light on this cause. I’ve been responsible for formalizing a committee at EY that gives employees the proper resources to deal with physical and non-physical issues. I rolled out a campaign at EY that centered around mental health and educating employees on this,” explains Cappabianca.
While he is a young professional at the start of his career, Cappabianca knows it is still a work in progress and is honest about not knowing what the future holds for him. The one thing he is sure about is that his career will continue in business, either at a large company as an executive or starting his own company. “The best way to discover what you love doing is to throw spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks. This means trying as many jobs, meeting different people, travelling to different places and just experiencing. You won’t know until you try everything.”