January 12, 2021 – A true legend of Olympic weightlifting, 2x Olympic Champion, 6x World Champion, author of many remarkable world records, U.S. heavyweight John Davis (1921-1984) would have been celebrating his 100th birthday on this day.
John Davis (1921-1984) was a legend of Olympic weightlifting of all times and all nations. He was a heavyweight king of the world from the end of 1930s to mid 1950s.
Davis won the Olympics in London (1948) and in Helsinki (1952) . The super heavyweight class at the time was 82.5+kg in 1948 and 90+kg in 1952. His bodyweight was 98.6kg and 104.3kg accordingly.
History doesn’t accept if-then clauses. However, by many accounts, Davis could have won a couple of more Olympics had they not been cancelled because of the World War II.
He won his first world title in 1938 and the second one in… 1946! His total count of major championships silverware included 6 gold medals at the Worlds and 2 golds at the Summer Olympics.
John Davis also set 16 world records in his career.
John Davis was born and grew up in the NYC area. In his childhood years he was good in gymnastics. After the end of a weightlifting career he worked for years as a correction officer at the famous Rikers Island jail facilities. Besides weightlifting, Davis had two big passions in his life. It was jazz and opera. He actually was a very good opera aria performer but couldn’t pursue this career due to a chronic medical defect (hiccups).
In 100 years since John Davis was born in 1921, there were so many changes in the sport of Olympic weightlifting – changes in the rules, elimination of the press lift, new lifting techniques and training methodologies, new outstanding champions, coaches and remarkable leaders in federations, new weight classes and new world records. There were fascinating ups and frustrating downs.
With all these said, the name of John Davis remains on the top as a symbol of a great athlete and personality, an unforgettable champion and a true legend.
RIP, great champion John Davis!