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Yes, Pizza Acrobatics is a Sport

A pizza acrobat. This is what you call someone who is an expert at tossing pizza dough into the air, spinning it around, catching it, and doing other stunts with it without it falling to the ground. The sport known as pizza acrobatics is sometimes called pizza freestyle or pizza tossing and it’s no joke. Pizza acrobats need the same amount of focus, coordination, and strength like any other competitive sportsman. Tony Gemignani is the man who’s made a career from pizza acrobatics. 

While Gemignani started flipping pizzas at age 17 at his brother's pizzeria in Castro Valley, California, he’s now the owner of 40 pizza restaurants around the U.S. and the world’s best pizza acrobat. The 49-year-old has a few trophies under his belt. He’s won 13 world championship titles for pizza acrobatics, 7 for acrobatics and stunts, and 6 for cooking. Gemignani holds several Guinness World Records, including the "largest pizza base spun in 2 minutes. “It’s hard. You need agility,” said Gemignani, “There’s some stamina involved. You’d be surprised.” 

(Photo Credit: Tony Gemigini via Facebook)

Pizza Acrobatics has been a competitive sport since the 1980s and includes the yearly World Pizza Games in Las Vegas and the Pizza World Championships in Parma, Italy. Pizzaioli, meaning pizza makers in Italian, fly from around the world to compete in these tournaments. Some of the countries represented have been the United States, Canada, Brazil, Sweden, France, India, Japan, and Italy. 

Recently, he has taken more to cooking pizzas, even teaching cooking courses at the Pizza University & Culinary Arts Center in Maryland. While he’s been victorious in many competitions, his passion is still making pizzas. “I celebrate every style of pizza. I have every type of oven,” he said. “I could never get sick of pizza.”

AJ Forrisi

Assistant Editor for America Domani, AJ Forrisi is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer. His work focuses on food, travel, sports, landscapes, and urban scenes. You can find him on Instagram @aj.photo.works