15 April 1901|
10 July 1978 (aged 77)|
|World Champion||1927–1940, 1946|
Joseph Davis, OBE (15 April 1901 – 10 July 1978) was an English professional snooker and English billiards player. He was the dominant figure in snooker from the 1920s to the 1950s. He won the first 15 World Championships from 1927 to 1946.
After his 1946 victory he no longer played in the World Championship but continued to play in other tournaments and exhibition matches until the late 1950s. He was World Billiards Champion 4 times between 1928 and 1932.
Joe Davis became a professional billiards player at the age of 18, having won the Chesterfield Championship at age 13. In 1926 he reached his first World Professional Billiards Championship final but was unsuccessful against defending champion Tom Newman. He reached the final again the following year and was runner-up again to the same opponent. It was to be a case of third time lucky for Davis when he defeated Newman in 1928 to become the world champion at English billiards for the first time. He would defend his title for the next three years – against Newman again in 1929 and 1930 and New Zealander Clark McConachy in 1932. He contested the final two more times in 1933 and 1934 losing on both occasions to Australian Walter Lindrum.
Coinciding with his peak as a billiards player, Davis's interests shifted to snooker and he helped to organise the first snooker world championship in 1927 and won the tournament by beating Tom Dennis, for which he won UK£6 10s. He went on to win the world championship every year until 1940. Joe's brother Fred, twelve years his junior, was also a snooker player and multiple World Champion. When Joe met Fred in the world championship final of 1940, Joe won 37–36.
Following the outbreak of World War II the world championship was not held for the next five years. On resumption in 1946, Davis defended his title making it his 15th consecutive win and thereby holding the title for 20 straight years. To date, he has won more world championships than any other player. He retired from the event following this victory making him the only undefeated player in the history of the world championships.
Davis proved he was still the man to beat up to the 1950s by winning the News of the World Tournament on three occasions during the decade. His nearest rivals were his brother, Fred, and future world champion John Pulman who each both won it on two occasions. He made history in 1955 by achieving the first officially recognised maximum break of 147 in snooker in an exhibition match at Leicester Square Hall. He had previously made the game's first official in 1930. In 1959 Davis attempted to popularise a new version of the game called snooker plus. This game had two extra , an orange and a purple and was used for the 1959 News of the World Snooker Plus Tournament but it never took off. In 1962, when over 60 years of age, he made the first televised century break. This break of exactly 100 was his first visit to the table in the very first frame of a match against the sitting World Champion John Pulman and consisted of seven blacks, two pinks and five blues. The break came to an end when Davis missed a long red into the top right hand pocket, the only time during the break when he was faced with a difficult pot, such was the quality of his positional play. 
Davis was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1963. He continued to play professionally until 1964.
Davis died two months after collapsing while watching his brother play Perrie Mans in the 1978 World Snooker Championship semi-final. His home, in Whitwell, Derbyshire bears a plaque commemorating him.
Having won fifteen World Championship titles, spanning an unbeaten 20-year period, and losing off level terms only four times in his career - all of which came towards the end of his career and were inflicted by his brother Fred, Davis is widely perceived as one of the greatest players of all time by enthusiasts and fellow professionals, including five-time World Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Until the 1980s, he was still generally regarded as the best player in the history of his sport, a sentiment demonstrated by the popular snooker coach Frank Callan, who, in his book "Frank Callan's Snooker Clinic", compared the best player at the time, Steve Davis, to Joe Davis in order to determine the greatest player ever. Callan also stated that, "many players who tried to emulate Joe's stance (which was unusually off centre due to left eye striking) simply gave up the game when they found they couldn't play like that". Davis' influence on the game was such that, according to Callan, "his word was law".
Steve Davis, who holds the record for most professional tournament wins and himself is generally regarded as the beginning of the modern game, has stated that if he could play against a player from the past, it would be Joe Davis, to "find out how good he really was". 
Snooker performance and rankings timeline
|Daily Mail Gold Cup[nb 1][nb 2]||Tournament Not Held||1||1||4||6|
|Sunday Empire News Tournament[nb 1]||Tournament Not Held||1||Tournament Not Held|
|News of the World Snooker Tournament[nb 1][nb 3]||Tournament Not Held||1||3||7||1||2||2||1||5||5||2||1|
|Sporting Record Masters' Tournament[nb 1]||Tournament Not Held||1||Tournament Not Held|
|World Championship||W||A||A||A||A||A||A||Tournament Not Held|
|Professional Matchplay Championship||Tournament Not Held||A||A||A||A||A||A||Tournament Not Held|
|Performance Table Legend|
|LQ||lost in the qualifying draw||#R/N||lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(N = position in round-robin event)
|QF||lost in the quarter-finals|
|SF||lost in the semi-finals
(challenge final in 1928)
|F||lost in the final||W||won the tournament|
|DNQ||did not qualify for the tournament||A||did not participate in the tournament||WD||withdrew from the tournament|
|NH / Not Held||means an event was not held.|
- Round-robin handicap tournament
- Billiards event before 1936/37 season
- Snooker Plus event in 1959/60 season
Non-ranking wins: (22)
- World Championship – 1927–1940, 1946 (15 times)
- Daily Mail Gold Cup – 1936, 1937
- Sunday Empire News Tournament – 1948
- News of the World Tournament – 1950, 1953, 1956
- Sporting Record Masters' Tournament – 1950
- World Championship – 1928–1930, 1932
- Turner, Chris. "Player Profile – Joe Davis OBE". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- "Betfred.com World Championship – History". World Snooker. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- BBC Snooker Century Breakers VHS home video 1993
- Ronnies Snooker Hotshots DVD 2004 Top Ten greatest players
- Steve Davis autobiography Interesting 2015
- "Snooker Gold Cup won by Davis". Morning Bulletin. 21 December 1936. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
- Hayton, Eric (2004). The CueSport Book of Professional Snooker. Suffolk: Rose Villa Publications. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-9548549-0-4.
- Davis, Joe (1929) [First published 1928]. Billiards Up-To-Date. John Long. ASIN B0008BPL3M.
- Davis, Joe (1946) [First published 1936]. Improve Your Snooker. London: Methuen Publishing. ASIN B000WVCH8A.
- Davis, Joe (1954). Advanced Snooker. Country Life. ASIN B0000CJ1MO.
- Davis, Joe (1956). How I Play Snooker. Country Life. ASIN B0000CJK63.
- Davis, Joe (1974). Complete Snooker. W. H. Allen. ISBN 0-491-01521-6.
- Davis, Joe (1976). The Breaks Came My Way – Autobiography. W. H. Allen. ISBN 0-491-01686-7. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
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