November 28, 2014

The upcoming John Davis memorial olympic weightlifting meet

The olympic weightlifting meet that I've been training for over a year, the meet that I'm hoping to break the New Mexico weightlifting state record by over a hundred pounds at, has a tentative name and date. As long as the name and date is approved by USA weightlifting it will be called the John Davis memorial and it will be held at The Miller gym here in Santa Fe. I'm excited that the meet I may be able to set the 105k+ 40-44 age group NM weightlifting record will be named after my favorite athlete, John Davis. John Davis died in Albuquerque NM on July 13, 1984 and is buried here in Santa Fe. He died alone and relatively forgotten. Weightlifters are the only family he has. He died without a spouse, children, or any living family at the time of his death.

Here's a little history on John Davis: John Davis was the most dominant weightlifter in history. He took 2nd place at nationals and competed in the world championships at only 16 years old. At that world championship, Davis literally shocked the weightlifting world by winning the 82.5 kg category in his first appearance on an international weightlifting platform. What amazed the world even more was that Davis won his championship at the tender age of 17. This win occurred in an era when there were no junior championships and when weightlifting was dominated by athletes in their 20s and 30s. John had made weightlifting history by becoming the youngest athlete ever to have won a world championship. It was a distinction he was to enjoy for nearly 50 years.

 Davis won the Nationals again in 1942 and 1943, but was prevented from competing in 1944 and 1945 by his war service. In 1946 he was back again to win the Nationals and to go on to win the first post-war World Championships in Paris. The following year, Davis won the Nationals and Worlds again (those World Championships were held in Philadelphia that year--the first time the US had hosted the Championships).  In 1948, he won the Olympic Games, and in 1949 and 1950 the World Championships. In 1951 he made his highest lifetime total of 1,063 lbs. at the inaugural Pan American Games. That same year, at the 1951 Nationals, he made weightlifting history once again by becoming the first lifter to C&J 400 pounds under official conditions (Charles Rigoulot, the great French professional strongman, had done this some years earlier but on a specially designed bar that would not have satisfied the rules that were in effect in Davis' day). Continuing his fantastic string, Davis went on to win the 1952 Olympics.  In 1953, John injured his leg, which hampered his training significantly. Although he won the Nationals, Davis was defeated at the World Championships by Doug Hepburn. The Canadian strongman had ended the longest undefeated streak in World Weightlifting history--a record that remains to this day.  All told, when his victory string ended in 1953, Davis had won 6 consecutive World Championships and 2 consecutive Olympic Games. Since that time, only two other weightlifters have ever duplicated Davis' achievement--Tommy Kono and Vasili Alexseev (Naim Sulemanaglou won more World Championships than this legendary trio and one more Olympic Games, but his victories were not consecutive, and Naim's record was set up 43 years after Davis'). One can on ly imagine how many championships Davis might have won had the war years not cut 7 years out of the prime of his career. He was undefeated for straight 16 years.

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