“Extreme Ironing is an outdoor activity that combines the danger and excitement of an ‘extreme’ sport with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.”
The sport reportedly started in Phil Shaw’s backyard in Leicester, England, but his promotional tour quickly attracted followers in Australia, Austria, and Germany, and the 2002 world championship drew 80 teams from 10 countries. Following the 2004 Summer Olympics, British rowing champion Sir Steve Redgrave backed high-stakes ironing to become an Olympic sport.
“Ironists” have performed atop Mount Kilimanjaro, 100 meters underwater off the Egyptian coast, during the London marathon, and in a David-Blaine-style box 20 meters above Christmas shoppers in Leicester. And like any noble calling, this one has inspired others, including downhill vacuuming, inner-city clothes drying, and “apocalypse dishwashing.” Helen Keller wrote, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”