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Published: Tuesday, 11/8/2005

10-year-old in upper crust of competitive throwers

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Josh Bailey, 10, won the inaugural junior division pizza tossing competition this summer using skills developed at his family s pizzeria.
Josh Bailey, 10, won the inaugural junior division pizza tossing competition this summer using skills developed at his family s pizzeria.
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Josh Bailey may not be as well known as child prodigies in other sports his picture doesn t appear on any cereal boxes, and his name isn t spoken at the local schoolyard pickup game.

But in the world of pizza dough tossing, the 10-year-old is, well, the head cheese.

I am getting on TV a lot more, he said while tossing dough in his parents pizzeria, Bailey s Pizza Co., 805 North Reynolds Rd. No, it doesn t make me that nervous.

There s more to his sport than flattening a ball of dough into the traditional saucer of a pizza. There are routines set to music and throws of dough behind the back and over the shoulder.

And there are competitions, where participants use five balls of dough and are judged on the originality, entertainment, and difficulty of their acrobatic skills.

This summer, at the inaugural pizza throw competition for juniors, Josh was crowned champion.

His secret?

Have fun and never give up, he said.

U.S. Pizza Team Coordinator Caroline Felker, who helped organized the junior event, said those in the pizza industry are hoping to get more young people involved.

She added that Josh, who at age 10 is better than most adults, is an anticipated addition to the national pizza team, which competes against other countries in an annual event in Italy.

Pizza making is a $40 billion industry, Ms. Felker said, and one that people probably never think about but should.

It s an up-and-coming sport, she said. We re trying to make it recognized as an Olympic event in China in 2008.

Josh came by his dough-slinging skills with a little help from his dad.

A long-time restaurateur, Aaron Bailey decided a few years ago to open a pizza restaurant. It was a matter of doing things quicker and creating a show that caused Mr. Bailey to learn.

His self-taught skills increased as he met more people involved in the field.

But it is his son, a fifth grader at Douglas Road Elementary in Bedford Township, who has attracted the most attention.

In the newly opened restaurant, Josh is often found slinging dough, using the traditional whip, spin, or toss methods the latter involving throwing the dough from one hand to the other or sometimes sitting on the floor, flipping the rubberized practice dough under his legs.

Other times, the young champion is found with his father at Toledo Children s Hospital, where the family delivers New York-style pizzas and demonstrates dough tossing.

That s the coolest thing we do. We re trying to give back to the community, Mr. Bailey said. Once we started doing acrobatic dough tossing, we wanted to do something good with it.

The father-son team appeared together at a recent pizza trade show sponsored by PMQ, an industry magazine.

Since that time, Josh has appeared on national television networks and programs, including ESPN, CNN, ABC s Good Morning America, and The Early Show on CBS.

MSNBC is scheduled to tape his skills today for an evening airing on the show Situation with Tucker Carlson.

It s one thing to see an adult tossing pizza on the Food Network. It s another to see a kid, at least in this country, Mr. Bailey said. He s become a one-man show.

Contact Erica Blake at:eblake@theblade.com or 419-724-6076.



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