Steve Davis

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Steve Davis
Born August 22, 1957 (1957-08-22)
Nationality Flag of England English
Nickname(s) The Nugget,
Ginger Magician,
Romford Slim
Professional 1978–
Highest ranking #1 (7 years)
2006/07 ranking #11
Career winnings £5,426,880
Highest break 147 ('82 Lada Classic)
Tournament wins
Ranking 28
Non-ranking 45
World Champion 1981, 1983, 1984, 1987–1989

Steve Davis, OBE, (born August 22, 1957, Plumstead, London) is an English professional snooker (and, to a lesser extent, pool) player. Davis has won more professional snooker titles (including six world and six UK Championships) than any other player.

Davis' most successful spell came during the 1980s, when he was snooker's world number one for seven years and reached eight world finals, culminating in him becoming the sport's first millionaire. Such was Davis' dominance in the 1980s, a popular saying suggested that he was on television more often than the Prime Minister of the time.

Although he hasn't won a major title since 1997, Davis continues to play snooker to a high level, retaining his place in the elite world top-16 players almost every year. For 2007/2008, he will be ranked no. 15. Davis has also developed a television career as a studio analyst during the BBC's extensive snooker coverage.

Snooker career

Amateur days

After a successful amateur career that saw him win age-group titles in both snooker and the game of English billiards (He won the Under 19 Billiards Championship in 1976), Davis played at the Romford branch of the Luciania snooker empire and the talent of this youngster was brought to the notice of Barry Hearn by Vic Harris. Davis ended his amateur career with international honours and by winning the WMC & IU snooker title. One of his last wins as an amateur was against another future professional Tony Meo in the final to win the Pontins Open Championship.

Early career

Davis turned professional in September 1978. He made his TV debut on Pot Black on which he played namesake Fred Davis. He made his debut at the World Championship a year later, losing 11-13 to Dennis Taylor in the first round. His performance at the 1980 tournament saw a significant improvement as he reached the quarter-finals, knocking out defending champion Terry Griffiths en route, before losing to Alex Higgins.

Glory years (1980s)

Davis won his first major title in the same year - the UK Championship - during which he comprehensively beat two of his close rivals, Griffiths 9-0 in the semi-finals and Higgins 16-6 in the final. Soon after the UK title, He won the Wilson's Classic and then the Yamaha International Masters and English Professional titles before reaching his first World final in 1981, having again seen off Higgins and Griffiths in the second round and the quarter-finals respectively, as well as reigning world champion Cliff Thorburn in the semi-finals and a young Jimmy White in the opening round. Davis' 18-12 victory over Doug Mountjoy in the final ushered in an era of dominance - he would reach seven of the next eight finals - and in celebration his manager Barry Hearn famously charged across the arena to lift him up in the air.

He followed up his world title win with a 9-0 final victory over Dennis Taylor in the Jameson International and then emphatically retained the UK Championship with a 9-0 win over White in the semi-finals and a 16-3 win over Griffiths in the final.

In 1982, he made TV sporting history when he compiled the first televised 147 maximum break at the Lada Classic at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Oldham, against John Spencer, though he was beaten 9-8 in the final by Griffiths. He made amends for that defeat in February by beating Griffiths in the final of the Masters, the first of his three titles there.

Falling victim to the Crucible Curse affecting first-time world champions on their return to the Crucible, Davis suffered a shock 10-1 loss to Tony Knowles in the first round at the 1982 World Snooker Championship, and was also denied a third consecutive UK title with defeat in the quarter-finals to Griffiths. Following those two setbacks, he won the first of four World Doubles titles with partner Tony Meo. Davis regained the world title the following season with a session in the final to spare, defeating an overwhelmed Thorburn, who had seen his previous three matches go to a deciding frame and a late finish, 18-6, and a year later became the first man to retain his title at the Crucible Theatre by beating Jimmy White 18-16 in the final.

Davis lost 16-15 to Higgins in the 1983 UK Championship final, despite having led 7-0 in the opening stages. He regained that title in 1984 by beating Higgins 16-8 and thereafter held it until his defeat in the semi-finals in 1988 to the up-and-coming Stephen Hendry, comprehensively beating Neal Foulds in the 1986 final and then White 16-14 in the close-fought 1987 final. Davis had looked set to lose the 1985 final to Willie Thorne who, leading 13-8 in the best of 31 frames match, missed a blue which would have given him a 14-8 lead. Davis won the frame and then seven of the next eight to win 16-14.

Ironically, one of his most memorable matches was one he lost: the 1985 World Championship final against Dennis Taylor. Davis seemed set for his third consecutive win, with an opening session of near-faultless snooker giving him a 7-0 lead, which was extended to 8-0 in the evening session, before Taylor bounced back to trail only 7-9. From 12-12 the pair traded frames before Davis forged ahead to lead 17-15. However, Taylor clawed his way back to 17-17 and the match went into a deciding frame. With the scores close, Taylor potted to the final colours to leave the black as the winner-takes-all ball. After a series of safety shots and attempts at potting it, Davis overcut the black, leaving Taylor with a reasonably straightforward pot to secure the championship. The nailbiting finale drew 18.5 million viewers, a record post-midnight audience on British television and a record audience for BBC2. The black ball finish was voted the 9th greatest sporting moment of all time in a 2002 Channel 4 poll.

He gained a measure of revenge over Taylor shortly afterwards, winning their Rothmans Grand Prix final, also in the deciding frame, and with a 2:14am finishing time. At the 1986 World Championship, having seen off White 13-5 in the quarter-finals and Thorburn 16-12 in a gruelling semi-final, Davis faced 150-1 outsider Joe Johnson in the final, but surprisingly lost 18-12 to the Yorkshireman. The result didn't affect his position at the top of the world rankings, as he had won the UK, the Grand Prix and the British Open in the past year. At the end of 1986 he beat Neal Foulds to win the UK Championship.

1987 saw a good start for Davis, as he won the Mercantile Credit Classic in January, beating defending champion Jimmy White 13-12. At the World Championship, he met Johnson in the final again, and regained the title by winning 18-14. Going into the 1988 World Championship, David had won the Fidelity International and the UK Championship, retained the Mercantile Credit Classic and regained the Masters title (with a 9-0 whitewash of Mike Hallett), regained the World Cup with England and won his fourth Irish Masters title. In the World Championship itself he rarely looked back, beating Hallett 13-1, Tony Drago 13-4 and Thorburn 16-8 en route to the final, where at 8-8 with Griffiths after two sessions, he pulled away to secure his 5th world title by winning 18-11.

In the 1988/89 season Davis won the Grand Prix, beating Alex Higgins in the final, but his unbeaten run of four UK Championship titles came to an end with a 9-3 loss to Hendry in the 1988 semi-final. He did not win another major title that season until the World Championship, when he completed the heaviest victory in a world final of the modern era with an 18-3 victory over John Parrott. In the same tournament he also set the record for the fewest frames conceded (23) at an individual world championship en route to winning it. By the end of the 1980s, he was snooker's first millionaire.

Later years

That win was, to date, Davis' last world title, though he continued to compete and win tournaments well into the 1990s. His last major win as World number one was the 1989 Grand Prix, in which he beat Dean Reynolds 10-0 in the final; Davis didn't win another major title until the 1992 Mercantile Credit Classic. In the 1990 World Championship, Jimmy White denied him an eighth consecutive final appearance when he won their semi-final 16-14. Davis was replaced as world number one by Stephen Hendry at the end of the 1989-90 season. For the most part he has retained his place in the top 16, and reached the semi-finals in the World Championships again in 1991 and 1994. Among other victories, he won four of his eight Irish Masters titles, the European Open, and the Mercantile Credit Classic during the decade.

Arguably the most memorable of his later tournament wins came in the Masters in 1997. Trailing his opponent Ronnie O'Sullivan 8-4 in the final, he reeled off the next 6 frames to secure a 10-8 win. That win remains his last in a major snooker tournament. Davis dropped out of the top 16 after the 2000 World Championship and failed to qualify for the championship for the next two years, before subsequently enjoying an up-turn in form and winning his place back in the 2003/2004 season. He was runner-up in the Welsh Open to O'Sullivan in 2004, losing 9-8 after having led 8-5, while in 2005, he reached the quarter finals of the World Championships before losing to eventual winner Shaun Murphy.

The 2005 UK Championship, held in York in December 2005, was Davis' most successful appearance at a major tournament for several years. He reached his 100th career final by beating defending champion Stephen Maguire 9-8 despite having trailed 7-4, a win which included a 145 break in the penultimate frame; and then Stephen Hendry (for the first time in twelve years) 9-6 in the semi-finals. In the final he met the rising Chinese star Ding Junhui, who is thirty years his junior - equalling the largest-ever disparity in ages between ranking tournament finalists - but lost 10-6. Despite losing, it took him to 3rd place in the provisional rankings, his highest position in a decade. In the same season he reached the second round of the World Championships, again losing to Murphy. Davis reached the quarter-finals of the 2006 UK Championships, losing to reigning world champion Graeme Dott, and continues to be in the top 16 snooker rankings.

As of 2006, Davis has won a record 73 professional titles, 28 of them in ranking events. His record of six world titles in the modern era has been bettered only by Stephen Hendry and no player has yet matched his tally of six UK titles. Davis has also compiled 310 competitive centuries (breaks over 100) during his career.

In the 2007 Snooker world championships he was beaten 10-9 in the first round by John Parrott


In the book Master of the Baize, a detailed comparison and ranking of snooker pros, authors Luke Williams and Paul Gadsby rated Davis among the top three greatest snooker players of all time.


In 1994, Davis began playing nine-ball pool professionally. He is responsible for the institution of the Mosconi Cup, a multi-day competition between teams from Europe and the USA, inspired by and roughly based on the format of golf's Ryder Cup. He has represented Europe in the tournament on eleven occasions, and was a member of the team's 1995 and 2002 wins; his victory against the USA's Earl Strickland clinched the 2002 competition for Europe.

Although he lost to Steve Mizerak in a snooker/pool triathlon in 1987, he has taken notable victories in his pool career, including his surprise winning streak at the 2000 World Pool Championship, where he took a 9-8 comeback win against reigning world champion Efren Reyes, following it up with victories over 1997 world champion Ralf Souquet and 1998 champion Kunihiko Takahashi.

In 2001, Davis nearly won his first title in pool at the World Pool League. However, Efren Reyes bested him in the final match 9-5.

Pool commentator Sid Waddell gave him the nickname Romford Slim, suggesting him to be the UK's answer to the famous American pool player Rudolph "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone. In pool, he also sometimes known as The Prowler for his unusal habit of pacing up and down the side of the table during pauses in play, and which he strangely does only in pool matches, never snooker.

He dislikes 8 ball pool, considering it akin to a bar sport because of its smaller cue-ball.

Outside snooker

Davis became known for his coolness and impeccable conduct in high-pressure situations, earning himself the nicknames The Ginger Magician and The Nugget.

His initial lack of emotional expression and somewhat monotonous interviewing style earned him a reputation as boring. As a result, the satirical television series Spitting Image gave him the ironic nickname Steve 'Interesting' Davis. Davis himself has long played upon this image, particularly as a pundit and commentator for the BBC's snooker coverage and as a guest on television quizzes such as They Think It's All Over, with an appealing line in deadpan humour.

He is co-author (with Geoff Atkinson) of the comedy book How To Be Really Interesting (1988) and the more serious Steve Davis Plays Chess (1995) (with David Norwood).

In 1988, Davis was named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year and was made an MBE. He was awarded an OBE in 2001 and is currently honorary president of the Snooker Writers' Association.

Davis has taken up his non-snooker interests in the public arena too. In 1983, he hosted The Steve Davis Sports Quiz for Channel 4 and later a soul music show for commercial radio stations, titled Steve Davis' Interesting Soul. Since 1996 he has presented a show dedicated to Progressive Rock and the Canterbury Scene on his local radio station, Phoenix FM. He is also a keen chess player and was, for a while, the President of the British Chess Federation. He also appeared in Crosse and Blackwell adverts in 1994.

He has also become a proficient poker player, with successful appearances at televised tournaments; one of these included an appearance at the final table together with fellow snooker player Jimmy White, who eventually won. Later, at the 2006 World Series of Poker, Davis finished 579th in the no limit Texas hold 'em main event, winning $20,617.

Davis is a big fan of the French progressive rock band Magma, and even organised a concert in London so he could watch them.

He lives in Brentwood, Essex is divorced and has two sons.

Davis is not related to snooker players Joe Davis and Fred Davis.

Tournament wins


Ranking tournaments
  • World Championship (1981, 1983, 1984, 1987–1989)
  • International Open (Jameson - 1983, 1984; Fidelity Unit Trusts - 1987, 1988; BCE - 1989)
  • UK Championship (1984–1987)
  • Classic (Lada - 1984; Mercantile Credit - 1987, 1988, 1992)
  • Grand Prix (1985, 1988, 1989)
  • British Open (1986, 1993)
  • Asian Open (1992)
  • European Open (1993)
  • Regal Welsh Open (1994, 1995)
Other tournaments
  • UK Championship (1980, 1981)
  • Classic (Wilson's - 1981; Lada - 1983)
  • Yamaha Masters (1981, 1982, 1984)
  • Jameson International (1981)
  • English Professional Championship (1981, 1985)
  • Masters (1982, 1988, 1997)
  • Tolly Cobbold Classic (1982, 1983, 1984)
  • Scottish Masters (1982, 1983, 1984)
  • Pot Black (1982, 1983, 1991, 1993)
  • Irish Masters (1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994)
  • Hong Kong Masters (1984, 1987)
  • Australian Masters (1986)
  • Canadian Masters (1986)
  • Premier League (1987-1990)
  • World Matchplay (1988)
  • European Grand Prix (1989)
  • Matchroom Professional Champion (1989)
  • Belgian Challenge (1992)
  • Thailand Masters (1992)
  • World Series (1992)
  • China International (1997)
  • Red Bull Super League (1998)
  • World Cup with England team (1981, 1983, 1988, 1989)
  • World Doubles Championship (1982, 1983, 1985, 1986 — all with Tony Meo)
  • World Trickshot Championship (1994, 1995, 1997)


  • Mosconi Cup (1995, 2002 — with Europe)
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