USA Weightlifting Features Black History Month:...

Black History Month: The Pioneer, John Davis

Feb. 08, 2020, 12 a.m. (ET)

John Davis was the first weightlifting athlete to be inducted into the US Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame. He is, to this day, one of only two weightlifting athletes to be inducted.

16-time World Record setter Davis hailed from Brooklyn, New York and went onto become the first African-American Olympian in 1940. Though those Games were cancelled, he went onto become Olympic Champion in 1948 (London) and 1952 (Helsinki).

Davis first won the World Championship at just 17-years-old in 1938 in Vienna, Austria before going on to be the first man in history to beat the 400lb mark with his 402lb clean and jerk. He would go on to be a 16-time World Champion, while becoming the second man in history to total over 1,000lbs.

He was undefeated in competition between 1938 and 1953, winning the US National Championship twelve times during that period. He even won championships while serving in the U.S. Army during World War II in 1942 and 1943, traveling home from the pacific war theater in order to do so.

Davis was born in 1921 on Long Island, New York and grew up in tenements in Brooklyn in a single parent family. He came into the sport when a local weightlifter named Steve Wolsky spotted Davis being dared by a friend to lift a 125lb concrete block.

Davis suffered a career-ending leg injury at the 1956 Olympic Trials and was forced to retire. He lived until the age of 63, working primarily for the New York Department of Corrections, when he passed away from cancer. Davis was later inducted to the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 1989.

Simply, a pioneer of Weightlifting whose achievements to do this day have yet to be surpassed.