John Davis

In Strongman Mastery by Admin1 Comment

John Davis was a weightlifter born in 1921 in Long Island. He was more into bodyweight training than weightlifting as a kid, and he was quite good at it. He was even able to hold a chin-up with 25 lb weight in the other hand, plus he could complete this move with both right and left hand. One day, however, he met weightlifter Steve Walsky who saw a potential in John and asked him to train at his own home gym.

Soon enough, John found himself training with weights around five times per week. Since he became a fan of weightlifting, John visited a strongman show and that’s where he met famous Bob Hoffman. Just a year or so later, he managed to take a second place in his first weightlifting contest, which was just a beginning of long and successful weightlifting career, during most of which he represented the York Barbell Club.

John Henry Davis lifting original Apollon Wheels

John Henry Davis lifting original Apollon Wheels

At the age of 17, John became a World Champion in the light heavy weight category in Austria, which made him the youngest contestant ever to win a world weightlifting championship. He never intended to compete in bodybuilding, as he believed that an African-American person could never win the Mr. America title. So he continued his weightlifting efforts which brought him two (gold) Olympic medals, twelve National Championship titles as well as eight World Championship titles.

John Davis became the second person to total over 1000 pounds and the first one to clean and jerk more than 400 pounds. In the video below, John is lifting original Apollons Wheels in 1949.

World records set by John Henry Davis:

Date Weight Lift
4/10/1940 125 kg Snatch
9/27/1947 139.5 kg Snatch
9/27/1947 174.5 kg Clean & Jerk
9/27/1947 455 kg Total
2/20/1948 140.5 kg Snatch
2/20/1948 151.5 kg Clean & Press
5/13/1948 141 kg Snatch
5/13/1948 152 kg Clean & Press
8/11/1948 142.5 kg Snatch
11/8/1949 177.5 kg Clean & Jerk
6/27/1950 148 kg Snatch
10/15/1950 462.5 kg Total
3/4/1951 180 kg Clean & Jerk
3/4/1951 481.5 kg Total
4/3/1951 149.5 kg Snatch
6/16/1951 182 kg Clean & Jerk


John was unbeaten from 1938 to 1953 and he died at the age of 63 in 1984.


  1. As a kid lifting at the Jr. Olympics in 1956 on RANDALLS ISLAND, NEW YORK , what a thrill for this then 15 year old kid to be told i was shaking hands with John Davis , world weight lifting champion. It’s a wonderful memory of a great honor . that stays fresh in my mind . And i sure hope there is a Valhalla over there to shake his hand again.

Leave a Comment