Traditional sports have lost some of their edge over the years, paving the way for the exciting reign of reality television and electronic devices. Yet there is hope. Yeah, soccer’s alright and Frisbee can be mildly entertaining, but if you’re looking for a more challenging and irrational way to pass your time this summer, consider these extreme activities born of strange combinations.
Labeled “The thinking man’s contact sport”, chessboxing has acquired quite a following among the more violent chess masters and cerebral boxers of the world. A delicate mix of deft reaction and time-management, the chessboxing fight begins with a round of chess (which takes 4 minutes), followed by a boxing round (3 minutes), followed by a round of chess, and on for a total of 11 rounds. There’s a one-minute break between each round to prepare for the next. Of course, checkmate or KO could terminate the match long before sweat and blood decorate the pawns in the final grueling round.
Although the concept may seem haphazard, the challenge actually requires some serious training. The World Chess Boxing Organization compares it to a biathlon, albeit a severely exaggerated one. This is not a casual sport for the curious amateur—you must have participated in at least 20 boxing matches and have an ELO chess rating of 1800 or higher to play in an official match, and of course you must be prepared for severe physical and emotional breakdown. But according to the WCBO, women think chessboxing is sexy, so there’s motivation for you.
No time to iron your work shirts and go rock climbing? You are not alone, my friend. A number of people, torn between domestic responsibility and extreme lifestyle, have turned to the thrill (and laundry-inspired satisfaction) of extreme ironing. As the name implies, this semi-official sport takes the humble iron and ironing board to extreme locations, such as remote rock faces, untamed forests and mountain plateaus, along with a few articles to be pressed.
It began in England, but has since spread all over the world, with participants using gas-powered or battery-powered irons and miniature ironing boards to attempt new and fascinating ironing expeditions. They not only climb to extreme heights, some also dive to extreme depths: a British team of extreme ironists has set a new record for the most people ironing under water at the same time, with 86 garments pressed under the surface of a Gloucestershire lake. Effective? No. Intriguing? Definitely.
Is mountain biking just too easy for you? If so, you may want to join the slender ranks of mountain unicyclers that traverse ridiculously rugged terrain as they balance rather precariously on one wheel. Of course, a regular unicycle won’t be up to the task—you’ll need a specially designed knobby tire to balance the particularly strong frame. But don’t bother with a brake; it won’t do you any good.
Besides, MUnicycling is less about speed and more about not falling onto a jagged rock. It certainly takes profound physical strength and stability to negotiate an uphill climb on one wheel as well as a controlled decent, and since it is impossible to coast, rest assured it will be an incredible workout. You’ll also need to know how to shift your weight to ride over bumps, hop over obstacles, ride backwards, hover and ride standing up with no weight on the seat. Concerned about safety? Don’t be. Professional MUnicyclists will assure you that, although there’s a remote potential for injury, mountain unicycling is very safe. Seize the day, sir.