Extreme Ironing

Kurt LiedtkeContributor IJune 12, 2009

Think of a sport that combines two completely unrelated things that seemingly would have zero place together.
Think of a sport that was sparked largely thanks to a mid-1990s music video.
Think of a sport that categorically makes no freakin' sense whatsoever.
Think of a sport where the jury is still out as to whether or not it is indeed actually a "sport."

You're thinking of the exact same sport in all cases, EXTREME IRONING!!!

Many people think that the concept for E EXTREME IRONING came from Monster Magnet's music video for the song "Negasonic Teenage Warhead" back in 1995 (starting at 0:48)

Monster Magnet - "Negasonic Teenage Warhead"
Monster Magnet - Negasonic Teenage Warhead

Others claim it was in 1997...

"in Leicester, East Midlands, England by resident Hans Meimban in his back garden. Meimban came home from what he recalls as a hard day in a Leicester knitwear[3] Preferring the idea of an evening out rock climbing, he decided to combine the two activities into a new extreme sport. In June 1999, Meimban, who uses the nickname "Steam", embarked on an international tour to promote the activity. The stops included the United States, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. An encounter with German tourists in New Zealand led to the formation of a group called "Extreme Ironing International", and the German Extreme Ironing Section or GEIS." factory.

Regardless of its conception, this has to be the wackiest "sport" to become an international sensation, sparked thanks to a BBC documentary Extreme Ironing: Pressing for Victory.
The concept is simple, people take various "extreme" sports activities and combine it with the mental zen-like activity of ironing clothing.

Competitors (yes, they have official competitions) are judged not only on the difficulty of the extreme activity or location, but also how well pressed the clothing is at the end of their allotted time.
The first international extreme ironing competition was held in September of 2002, with Great Britain taking home the gold in the overall competition as split up into the following categories:

  • Urban- Involved ironing in/on/around a broken down car.
  • Water- A fast flowing river was the location for this station. Competitors could use surfboards, canoes or rubber rings to help them.
  • Forest- Ironing at the top of a tree did not suit all the competitors.
  • Rocky- A purpose built climbing wall, which ironists had to climb and iron a t-shirt.
  • Freestyle- The section where "anything goes".

Over the years since Extreme Ironing has become even more popular, and more varied in its bizarre categories of competition. There are now extreme ironing clubs all over the world and they are pushing widely for extreme ironing to be included as a sport, perhaps one day even becoming a part of the Olympics.

I'm still confused as to how exactly Ironing can be considered a sport, but hey it is after all EXTREME!!!! Whether judged based on time, quality of the press, variety, difficulty, or whatever...it all seems pretty kooky.

But while having never competed in Extreme Ironing before, i do have some thoughts on strategy and general questions about it...

-To me, it seems like the most difficult aspect of it isn't so much the balancing of the board or the extreme activity, but dealing with the power supply. Do they used battery charged irons, or just run an extension cord or what? If they're running a long cord, then it's vital to keep proper slack otherwise the line going taught could mess up everything.  So do they run an extension cord?  Is it battery/gas powered?  And how does that work underwater?  Have they invented a waterproof electric iron, or do they go old school to pre-electricity days when irons where literally just solid blocks of iron heated up on the stove.

-If ironing underwater, how is it judged to be wrinkle-free afterwards when the clothing is completely saturated?

-Seriously, how high were the people who thought this could be a sport?

-Is this a zen-based idiology of somehow enhancing an already adrenaline-filled experience by counter-balancing that with something that requires a focused cerebral activity to achieve some happy median between the two simultaneously? Or am I overthinking this?

-Is starch considered to be the banned equivalent of steroids/performance-enhancing drugs?

-Extreme ironing, or just extreme irony???


...you people are insane.