Extreme Ironing


When we think of extreme sports, generally images of athletes jumping out of aircrafts or scaling the sides of steep cliffs. Rare is the occasion when we think of doing a household chore.

Extreme Ironing (EI) is an ‘extreme sport’ in which ‘athletes’ take ironing boards to extreme locations and iron items of clothing. Described on their website as the “latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt”.

Whilst it is greatly debated whether or not EI can be considered a real sport, it has gained quite a following worldwide. It is said to have originated in 1997 by Leicester resident Phil Shaw, the sport has spread around the world through social media and the spread of online videos. Whilst widely taken in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, Shaw has traveled around the world spreading the sport and recruiting new ‘ironists’.

The sport gained international attention after a documentary was broadcast on Channel 4 in Britain. Entitled “Extreme Ironing: Pressing for Victory”. It followed the British teams efforts in the 2002 Inaugural Extreme Ironing World Championships in Germany. This event judged the competitors abilities to iron in a range of different environments, with the event divided into three sections:

  • Urban – where a broken down car was used as the location
  • Water – A fast flowing river. Competitors used canoes, surfboards etc as aids.
  • Forest – ironing took place on hoists at the tops of trees.
  • Rocky – A rock-climbing wall was used.
  • Freestyle – ‘Anything goes’

The documentary also included the rivalry between the EIB (Extreme Ironing Bureau) and the group Urban Housework, which attempted to form other extreme sports involving vacuum cleaning.

Since it’s inception the sport of Extreme Ironing has gained much attention around the world. Ironers have been known to practice their skills in a wide range of locations – from the M1 motorway in the UK to whilst running a half marathon. It will continue to grow and cause heads to turn for some time yet.



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