When you think of England’s Oxford University, you might think of Rhodes Scholars and other serious learning endeavors, not a group of wild and crazy daredevils called “The Oxford Dangerous Sports Club.”
Formed in the seventies, the group’s original members consisted of David Kirke, Chris Baker, Ed Hulton, and Alan Weston. These daredevils were an unlikely mix of art and engineering students. From 1979 to 1989 (with sporadic reappearances throughout the years), they wreaked havoc in the UK and in other corners of the world.
On April Fools Day, 1979, the DSC’s first public stunt was a bungee jump off the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England. This was, in fact, the very first bungee jump in history. Then engineering student David Kirke has been credited with engineering the elastic chord used for this first jump.
For their next stunt, the DSC flew to San Francisco where members bungee jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.
This gained them enough notoriety to attract producers fromr the American television reality series, “That’s Incredible.” For the benefit of the TV cameras, DSC members bungee jumped off Colorado’s Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge. It was this televised event that launched bungee jumping as the first popular extreme sport.
Other Extreme DSC Activities
After inventing bungee jumping, a fairly straightforward yet very dangerous sport, the DSC went on to create additional over-the-top stunts; most of these done with much more than a touch of satire. For added flair, members have often performed stunts in top hat and tails.
Their satirical yet incredibly dangerous stunts have included hang gliding from active volcanoes; flying a microlight plane around London’s Big Ben; crossing the English Channel while inside the “pouch” of an inflatable kangaroo; and “zorbing”, a fairly recent extreme sport that was actually invented by two New Zealanders. (A side note: “Zorbing” is a stunt where participants roll down a extremely steep and rocky hill while suspended inside a huge double-hulled plastic transparent sphere.
Extreme Sports Today
In recent years, entrepreneurs have made millions promoting extreme sports, many of which are glitzier variations of stunts that originated with the Oxford Dangerous Sports Club.
Note that DSC members have never made money off the popularity of extreme sports. For them, it wasn’t about money. This probably speaks well of them.
A side note: Monty Python Graham Chapman was a DSC member. At the time of his death in 1989, Chapman was at work on a film about the Oxford Dangerous Sports Club. Sadly, it wasn’t completed.
“A leap into the unknown”, Carl Wilkinson, Telegraph
“Danger Man”, Mark MacKenzie, Independent