15 April 1901|
|Died||10 July 1978
|Highest break||147 (1955)|
|World Champion||1927–1940, 1946|
Joseph "Joe" 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. 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 and remained the most well-known player until the late 1950s. He was also 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 century break in 1930. In 1959 Davis attempted to popularise a new version of the game called snooker plus. This game had two extra colours, an orange and a purple and was used for the 1959 News of the World Snooker Plus Tournament but it never took off. 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.
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.
- "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.