Throughout various periods of history, left-handers have faced discrimination and prejudice, and often were forced into becoming right-handed by parents and teachers (as happened to England’s King George VI) who would make them write and perform tasks with their right hand. Today, lefties make up about seven to ten percent of our population.
Here are some interesting facts about southpaws that you might not know:
The term “southpaw” is of unsure origin, but it is believed to come from either baseball or wrestling. Men are more likely to be southpaws than women.
Many notable people throughout history were left-handed. Eight of our U.S. presidents were lefties, including three of the most recent – George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. Larry Bird, Chris Mullen, Nick van Exel, and Bill Russell – four dominant basketball players – were all left-handed. Oscar de la Hoya, the popular boxer, is a southpaw.
Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, and Julius Caesar conquered much of the world, leading their armies with their left hands. Without lefties, the world would miss the contributions of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Henry Ford, and Albert Einstein, among many others.
Lefties even have their own day – International Left-Handers Day is celebrated on August 13th every year. Those who are left-handed are more likely to be ambidextrous, and some people also think lefties are more likely to be creative and make better use of the right side of their brains (though this theory is debated).
College-educated southpaws earn on average 10-15% more than righties. And lefties are well-represented at the top of the income scale by Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates. There’s even a college scholarship just for lefties.
Right-handed people tend not to realize it, but many items we take for granted are harder for lefties to use, such as school desks, scissors, bowling balls, and joysticks. The Handedness Research Institute has posted an article titled “What’s Wrong with This Desk?” which describes the various problems right-handed desks can cause for left-handed students.
If you want to test your knowledge of lefties, take LeftHandersDay.com’s left handed quiz. (You can also join their free Left-Handers Club.) Not sure if you’re a southpaw? AnythingLeftHanded.co.uk’s test might be able to help you figure it out.
The following sources were used as references for this article, and can also provide more information to those who are interested: