Born in Plumstead, South East London on August 22, 1957, Steve Davis was introduced to snooker at an early age by his late father, Bill, who died in March, 2016, at the age of 89. However, it was after he joined forces with Barry Hearn – nowadays, of course, chairman of World Snooker, but at that time chairman of Lucania Snooker Clubs – as an 18-year-old that he began his rise to prominence. Davis turned professional in September, 1978 and, in 1980, won his maiden professional title in the UK Championship at the Guild Hall, Preston, where he whitewashed Terry Griffiths 9-0 in the semi-final and demolished Alex Higgins 16-6 in the final.
Davis reached the last 16 of the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield in 1979 and the quarter-final in 1980, losing 13-11 and 13-9 to Dennis Taylor and Alex, respectively, before winning the first of six world titles in 1981. Notwithstanding a shock 10-1 defeat at the hands of Tony Knowles in the last 32 in 1982, Davis went on to dominate the World Championship, and snooker as a whole, throughout the Eighties. He was world champion again in 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988 and 1989, and runner-up in 1985 and 1986.
Indeed, the final frame of the 1985 World Championship, in which Dennis Taylor potted the crucial final black to beat Davis 18-17, having trailed 8-0 early in the second session of the match, is probably the most famous frame in the history of snooker. The so-called ‘black ball final’ lasted nearly 15 hours, eventually finishing after midnight, and attracted a record 18.5 million television viewers.
Davis also had the distinction of compiling the first televised maximum break, against John Spencer in the quarter-final of the Lada Classic in 1982. He announced his retirement from professional snooker, at the age of 58, in April, 2016, having won 81 professional titles, including 28 ranking titles.