Steve Davis OBE (born August 22, 1957) is an English professional snooker player who lives in Brentwood, Essex with his wife and two sons.
Davis has won more professional snooker titles (including six world and six UK championships) than any other player and is justifiably considered one of the greatest players of all time. Such was Davis's popularity and dominance in the 1980s, it was suggested that he was on television more often than the then Prime Minister. At the age of 49, he is still going strong, retaining his place in the elite world top-16 players almost every year, and hoping to remain there at least until his 50th birthday. For the 2006-07 season, he is ranked no. 11.
After a successful amateur career that saw him win underage titles in snooker and billiards, Davis turned professional in 1978. 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.
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. He reached 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-final 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 Oldham Civic Centre 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 Benson & Hedges Masters, the first of his three titles there.
Davis suffered a shock 10-1 loss to Tony Knowles in the first round at the World Championships in 1982, 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, 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.
Perhaps his most notable match was 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, and at 17-17 the match went into a deciding frame. With the score 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 straightforward pot to secure the championship. The nailbiting finale saw a record post-midnight audience on British television and a record audience for BBC2 of 18 million people. He gained a measure of revenge over Taylor shortly afterwards, winning their Rothmans Grand Prix final, also in the deciding frame.
At the 1986 world championship, having seen off White 13-5 in the quarter-finals and Thorburn 16-12 in a gruelling semi-final, he 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 of the world rankings, as he had won the UK, the Grand Prix and the British Open in the past year. He met Johnson in the final again a year later, with Davis winning 18-14. He went into the 1988 world championship as the holder of three ranking titles - the Mercantile Credit Classic, the Players Championship and the UK Championship - as well as the Masters and the Irish Masters. In the tournament itself he rarely looked back, beating Mike 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. A year later Davis completed the most crushing World Championship final victory in the modern era when he defeated John Parrott 18-3 in 1989. In the same tournament he also set the record for the fewest frames conceded (23) at the championships en route to winning it.
That win was, to date, Davis' last world title, though he continued to compete and win tournaments well into the 1990s. He was replaced as world number one by Stephen Hendry at the end of the 1990-91 season. For the most part he has retained his place in the top 16, and reached the world semi-finals in 1990, 1991 and 1994. Among others 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 tournmant wins came in the Benson & Hedges 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 in his last in a major snooker tournament. He was runner-up in the Welsh Open to O'Sullivan in 2004 and in 2005 enjoyed an up-turn in form, reaching the quarter finals of the World Championship before losing to eventual winner Shaun Murphy. In 2006 he lost to the same player in the second round.
He reached his 100th career final by beating Stephen Hendry (for the first time in twelve years) 9-6 at the UK Championship held in York in December 2005. 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 by ten frames to six. Despite losing it took him to 3rd place in the provisional rankings, his highest position in a decade.
By 2006, he had 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 became known for his coolness and impeccable conduct in high-pressure situations, earning himself the nicknames The Ginger Magician, and The Nugget. His featureless expressions 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 humorous book How To Be Really Interesting (1988).
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 similar show 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.
In 1995 Davis began playing pool professionally and is responsible for the institution of the Mosconi Cup, a multi-day competition between teams from the USA and Europe, inspired by and roughly based on the format of the Ryder Cup. 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.
Davis is a big fan of the French Progressive Rock band Magma, and even organised a concert in London so he could watch them.
Davis is no relation to snooker players Joe Davis and Fred Davis.