The Greatest Left-Handed Athletes of All Time

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You may not be the only one feeling a little left of centre today. 

Since 1973, August 13 has marked International Left-Handers Awareness Day, a special occasion that celebrates our unique lefty brothers and the challenges they face with scissors, notepads and whatever else life has to throw at them.

Lefties make up roughly seven to ten per cent of the world’s population, and it just so happens a few of the most important ones have gone on to achieve great things on the sporting stage. 

So, if you’re a lefty, put on a happy face and celebrate with our list of The Greatest Left-Handed Athletes below!

Phil Mickelson 

  • Accomplishments: three-time Masters winner (2004, 2006, 2010), PGA Championship winner (2005), The Open Championship winner (2013). 

The dude is literally nicknamed Lefty, so of course he’s leading us off.

What people don’t know about Mickelson though, is that he’s actually a regular righty in all other areas of life. 

Only on the links does the 50-year-old Hall of Famer wear the glove on his left hand after mirroring his father’s swing as a child.

Honourable Mention: Bubba Watson.

Rafael Nadal 

  • Accomplishments: 85 career titles. 19-time Grand Slam winner.

There’s a bit of Mickelson to Nadal. 

He too is a natural righty, but took to playing the game with his left hand after some encouragement from his uncle as a youngster. 

Fire call from uncle Toni when you think about it. 

Nadal remains just one win shy of Roger Federer’s all-time Grand Slam record. 

Honourable Mention: John McEnroe, Rod Laver.

Wayne Gretzky

  • Accomplishments: four-time Stanley Cup champion, nine-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner, NHL all-time leading scorer. 

Truth be told, “The Great One” was fairly ambidextrous during his 21-year career, but he was at his absolute best when shooting off his left. 

Gretzky’s career accomplishments will never be matched and there is simply nobody in hockey that can even compare. 

Be sure to keep an eye out next time he hits the links at the Pebble Beach Pro Am, though. 

Just because he can, Gretzky plays golf right-handed. 

Honourable Mention: Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid

Brian Lara

  • Accomplishments: 11,953 Test runs (52.88 average), 10,405 ODI runs (40.48 average). 

The history of cricket is rich with left-handers, but it’s tough to go past the legendary Brian Lara after scoring 400* Test runs (not out, by the way) against England back in 2004. 

Lara also made 34 centuries in his 26-year career and is quite easily one of the greatest lefties, and cricketers, the game has ever seen. 

Honourable Mention: Matthew Hayden, Allan Border, Adam Gilchrist 

Sandy Koufax

  • Accomplishments: four-time World Series Champion, three-time Cy Young Award winner, two-time World Series MVP, seven-time All-Star. 

Equipped with a decisive four-seamer and one of the filthiest curveball’s you’ll ever see, Sandy Koufax firmly remains one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in Major League history.

The quiet boy from Brooklyn threw four no-hitters in an 11-year career that included a perfect game in 1965 against the Cubs. 

Injuries eventually forced him off the mound, retiring with a sparkling 2.76 career ERA alongside 2,396 strikeouts. 

Honourable Mention: Randy Johnson, Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey Jr, Barry Bonds, Clayton Kershaw

Lionel Messi 

  • Accomplishments: seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, four-time UEFA Champions League champion, 10-time La Liga champion.

Come to think of it, Messi is fairly ambidextrous too, but he tends to spend most of his time dribbling and shooting with his left boot. 

If you’re lucky enough to snag an autograph from the great man though, be prepared for him to grasp the Sharpie with his right hand.

Honourable Mention: Pele.

Luke Hodge

  • Accomplishments: four-time Premiership player, two-time Norm Smith Medalist, three-time All Australian. 

It’s a long and fairly subjective list when it comes to the AFL, but based on class, skill and pure excitement, Hodgey is the one that truly stands out. 

Nobody has been more accurate with the left boot than “the general”, and nobody could bring the house down with ridiculous moments quite like the one above.

Honourable Mention: Matthew Lloyd, Buddy Franklin, Simon Black, Maurice Rioli. 

Bill Russell

  • Accomplishments: 11-time NBA Champion, five-time NBA MVP, 12-time NBA All-Star.

Bill Russell set the bar so high during the 50s and 60s that it’s impossible to see any other lefty coming close to matching his career achievements. 

Russell wasn’t a pure scorer, but he was a weapon on the glass that was capable of matching Wilt Chamberlain on any given day. 

The Lord of the Rings retired with over 14,000 career points to his name and over 21,000 rebounds and is widely regarded as one of, if not the, greatest players in NBA history.

Honourable Mention: James Harden, David Robinson, Nate Archibald

Manny Pacquiao 

  • Accomplishments: 62-7-2 career record, eight-time world champion. 

There isn’t a more stylish southpaw than the Pacman.

Pacquiao’s success has ranged across eight different weight classes and netted him more than $500 million in career earnings. 

His left has never been a knockout punch so to speak, but his straight left down the middle coming off the side step remains a thing of beauty. 

Honourable Mention: Oscar De La Hoya, Vasyl Lomachenko.

Anderson Silva & Conor McGregor 

  • Silva’s Accomplishments: 34-10 record, UFC Middleweight Champion, longest title reign in UFC history (2,457 days). 
  • McGregor’s Accomplishments: 22-4 record, UFC Featherweight Champion, UFC Lightweight Champion, third multi-divisional champion in UFC history.

We had a tough time separating Anderson Silva and Conor McGregor, so let’s just say these two guys are head and shoulders above every other southpaw to step foot inside the octagon. 

Silva is naturally a righty and is more than capable of switching stances, while McGregor has landed just about every one of his 19 career knockouts on his left. 

There’s still a slight chance we get to see these guys go at it in the not-too-distant future, which just might settle the debate between who is the better southpaw once and for all. 

Steve Young 

  • Accomplishments: three-time Super Bowl champion, two-time MVP, seven-time Pro Bowler. 

Steve Young had enormous shoes to fill in San Francisco playing under Joe Montana’s shadow, but the lefty went about business in style to lead the NFL in passer rating a record six times. 

He also became the first lefty quarterback to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, wrapping up a tidy career for a guy that was never supposed to make it that far in the first place.

Honourable Mention: Ken Stabler, Boomer Esiason, Michael Vick

Ayrton Senna

  • Accomplishments: 41 Formula 1 Grand Prix wins.

Senna remains Formula 1’s most famous lefty. 

The man from Sao Paulo dominated the tight corners in Monaco for six victories between 1987 and 1993, while he also won the Australian Grand Prix twice in 1991 and 1993. 

He sadly passed away in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix a year later. 

Honourable Mention: Max Verstappen.

James Wade 

  • Accomplishments: two-time UK Open winner, 2007 World Matchplay Winner, 2009 Premier League winner, 2010 Championship League winner, 2014 Masters winner.

The man from Aldershot remains England’s most prominent (and successful) lefty in the world of darts. 

Wade is currently ranked No. 8 in the world and, aside from his achievements in PDC premier events, has made it as far as the Last 16 in both the World Championships and the World Darts Trophy tournament.

Last but not least, he’s also the only player to hit a nine-dart finish alongside Robert Thornton in the same match. You’ll want to check that out below.

Tips, recommendations and commentary are for entertainment only. We provide no warranty about accuracy or completeness. You should make your own assessment before placing a bet.