Obscure Sports Weekly: Extreme ironing

Extreme ironing is the sport for you if you want to combine sport with performance art. It entails hiking or climbing to a remote location and ironing clothing there. The sport is said to have been started in 1998 by Phil Shaw in Leicester, England. Shaw came home from work one day and needed to iron his clothes, but he also wanted to go rock climbing. He combined the two to make extreme ironing. He went on tour in 1999 to promote the sport.

Common places to extreme iron are on top of mountains and statues, but the sport allows for its participants to be creative. It can also been done while in motion, for those up for a greater challenge. Some athletes iron while water skiing or snowboarding. There have been attempts to move the sport into the area of bungee jumping, but there have been difficulties working out the logistics.

Some challenges of the sport include carrying the ironing board, iron and clothes to the desired destination. Creating a set-up once there can also prove tricky. When the sport is done in motion, creative measures must be taken in order to secure the board.


Shaw and a group of friends won the only World Championship in extreme ironing in 2002. While the popularity of the sport has declined since its boom in the early 2000s, now is the time to partake. Shaw recently came out of retirement and is again promoting the sport.

Those looking to get into the sport can join the German Extreme Ironing Section (GEIS) or Extreme Ironing International. However, both of those groups are based out of Germany, and the U.S. does not have an organization for extreme ironing. College students would have to travel to De Montfort University in the United Kingdom to participate, as it is the only university in the world to have recognized extreme ironing as an official sport of the school.

Extreme ironing may be unconventional, but it does provide entertainment and allow for creative multitasking.



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