Article Excerpt: Jim Murray in June 1954 issue of Strength & Health

In the realm of strength and powerlifting, John Davis stands as a formidable figure, despite often being considered below par when compared to other great champions like Paul Anderson and Hepburn. However, a closer examination of his achievements in various strength feats reveals why those in the know refused to merely label Davis as a "great athlete" and not the "world's strongest man" in recent years.

Until last year, coinciding with a period of Olympic lifting decline, Davis was a deserving contender for the "strongest man" title based on his outstanding odd lift efforts. Despite his modesty in never claiming to be the "strongest," Davis also refrained from publicizing impromptu stunts, focusing on the Olympic three lifts—considered paramount in determining true strength.

Davis's reluctance to discuss his own odd lift performances stemmed from his dedication to the three lifts during specific training periods, preventing him from reaching his peak poundage on any of them. Through conversations and correspondence, however, a clearer picture of Davis's remarkable strength emerged.

Between 1938 and 1941, Davis showcased his prowess by squatting 550 pounds for three repetitions at a bodyweight of 193. Deadlifting 705 pounds, he maintained a bodyweight fluctuating between 193 and 196. His strength extended to squatting 500 pounds for ten repetitions and 525 pounds for eight repetitions at a bodyweight of 193. During varied training sessions, he bent pressed 275 pounds at 183 pounds bodyweight.

In an impressive display of strength, Davis executed a one-arm chin at 182 pounds bodyweight while holding 20 pounds in the opposite hand. At 190 pounds, he bent pressed 310 pounds to a straight arm but struggled to rise with it. One-arm snatching 215 pounds at 190 pounds bodyweight showcased his agility. Weighing 191, he one-arm military pressed 145 pounds and one-arm curled 103 pounds in strict style. Even at a lighter bodyweight of 183, Davis managed to press 343 pounds in the continental style.

Davis's commitment to heavy bench presses and full squats as integral components of his training regimen is evident in the accompanying photos. Noteworthy is his unassisted lift of 425 pounds in the bench press, employing his regular overhead pressing grip. In the squat, he astoundingly handled 850 pounds for three repetitions at a mere 193 pounds bodyweight, a feat accomplished fourteen years ago. These achievements solidify John Davis's status as an unsung strength icon, leaving an enduring legacy in the world of powerlifting.