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.
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:
|9/27/1947||174.5 kg||Clean & Jerk|
|2/20/1948||151.5 kg||Clean & Press|
|5/13/1948||152 kg||Clean & Press|
|11/8/1949||177.5 kg||Clean & Jerk|
|3/4/1951||180 kg||Clean & Jerk|
|6/16/1951||182 kg||Clean & Jerk|
John was unbeaten from 1938 to 1953 and he died at the age of 63 in 1984.
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.