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East County Friday, Apr. 1, 2011 6 years ago

Ranch Friends challenge incorporation group to sumo

by: Michael Eng Executive Editor

APRIL FOOLS' DAY — It seems the Friends of Lakewood Ranch want to settle the incorporation debate like fat Japanese men.

The anti-incorporation group has challenged members of the Incorporation Study Committee to a sumo tournament.

According to a press release issued Monday, the Friends group proposes each side don sumo costumes and meet in sumo circles at the new Premier Sports Complex at Lakewood Ranch off State Road 70. No date has been set.

“Let’s see who wants it the most,” said Friends leader Gerry Burns. “When push comes to shove, we feel our hatred of the Fishkind study will fuel our strength in the ring.”

The challenge comes after the several press releases issued by the Friends group questioning the Incorporation Study Committee’s willingness to debate the issue.

“Why do they fear an open debate?” the Friends of Lakewood Ranch wrote in a March 4 press release. “Are they afraid to appear in a forum where their assertions can be questioned without pre-screened questions and prepared responses? Are they afraid the public will find out how weak the pro-incorporation side’s argument is?”

That March 4 press release was issued following inaccurate reporting by the Bradenton Herald that stated Incorporation Study Committee leaders were not willing to debate. After several weeks and repeated e-mails, the committee finally accepted the debate invitation.

As proposed, the Friends’ sumo challenge would feature a bracket-style tournament with 16 wrestlers grappling in four different rings. Winners of each match will continue deeper into the tournament, which will culminate with a finals match at the end of the evening. ESPN analyst Dick Vitale will provide live play-by-play commentary, and the Friends already have secured live entertainment, including the Glass Onion Band, face painting, a magician and more. Braden River student Levi Waxler will open the tournament by signing the national anthem. Refreshments will be provided by The Polo Grill and Bar catering.

The East County Observer contacted leaders from the Incorporation Study Committee regarding the sumo challenge. Committee representative Thom Tomaides said the committee plans to discuss the challenge at its next meeting, which may be next week or next fall.

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