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Fight over bocce club allowing women to play

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Bocce ball controversy Bocce ball controversy
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

69-year-old John Bourbakis drove trucks filled with raw meat for 32 years. Now, he plays a lawn sport with plastic spheres for up to eight hours a day.

"Some players over here don't like the women to play with us," Bourbakis said.

"I have a lot of fights with them," former Brooklyn bocce champ Maria Manzola said of some of the men with whom Bourbakis plays. "I put up with a lot of garbage. The other morning I wanted to play. All of them went home."

Bourbakis plans to put a stop to that trend. He's running for president of Brooklyn's Marine Park bocce club on a platform of inclusion and equality.

"We don't want anybody to discriminate," he said.

But Bourbakis seems unlikely to run unopposed. A bloc of his constituents would like to block the progressive bocce-ball he's set into motion."

"I can't stop it," club member Ron Coehn said. "I don't like it. But I can't stop it."

Coehn says women make the game less competitive, but he still respects the opinions of his club-mates who disagree with him.

Not everyone in the club feels the same.

"I want nothing to do with this nonsense these people are perpetrating," one player said. "Nothing."

Leave it to a 28-century-old lawn sport to start a shouting match between retired men in the park.

"We're like brothers," Coehn said. "We're here all the time."

But Bourbakis sees those unwilling to welcome some sisters to the family as behind the bocce ball. He says the club needs new faces and genders to keep the courts maintained and the club alive.

"We don't want the organization to go down," Bourbakis said. "We want it to progress."

And so, with election season just three months away, in Marine Park Anthony Weiner's past seems an afterthought to the bocce ball's future.

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