Journal article
Pushing through evolution? Incidence and fight records of left-oriented fighters in professional boxing history

Publication Details
Loffing, F.; Hagemann, N.
Publication year:
Pages range:
Journal acronym:
Volume number:

The fighting hypothesis proposes that left-oriented athletes enjoy a negative frequency-dependent advantage in combat sports such as boxing. Supporting evidence, however, is restricted to cross-sectional frequency data from small samples. Here, we examined the incidence and fight records of 2,403 left- and right-oriented fighters who were listed in the annual ratings of professional boxing from 1924 to 2012. Unexpectedly, left-oriented boxers were overrepresented in no more than 7 of the 89 years considered, their percentages varied up to 30% and increased over the entire period, and frequencies varied substantially between weight divisions. In support of the fighting hypothesis, lose?win ratios indicated larger fighting strength in left- compared to right-oriented boxers, which, however, was not reflected in different proportions of wins and losses by knockout. Our findings are partly consistent with an assumed left-oriented fighters' advantage in combat sports. Such advantage could be explained by negative frequency-dependent selection mechanisms; however, our study also revealed potential limits of the fighting hypothesis such that alternative explanations cannot be fully excluded. We propose that interference by factors not related to performance could also limit the suitability of data from elite sporting competition for testing evolutionary models of human handedness.

Research Areas

Last updated on 2019-25-07 at 11:34