Joseph Davis OBE (15 April 1901 – 10 July 1978) was an English professional snooker and English billiards player. He was the dominant figure in snooker from the 1920s to the 1950s and has been credited with inventing aspects of the way the game is now played, such as break-building. With equipment manufacturer Bill Camkin, he drove the creation of the World Snooker Championship by persuading the Billiards Association and Control Council to recognise an official professional snooker championship in 1927. Davis won the first 15 championships from 1927 to 1946 and remains the only undefeated player in World Snooker Championship history. He scored the championship’s first century break, in 1930.
Davis was a professional English billiards player from the age of 18 and was World Billiards Champion four times between 1928 and 1932. He was the first person to win world titles in both billiards and snooker. After his 1946 World Snooker Championship victory, Davis no longer played in the World Championship but participated in other tournaments and exhibition matches until 1964, winning four News of the World Snooker Tournament titles. He also continued to wield considerable influence over the professional game through his chairmanship of the professional players’ association, his co-ownership of the venue Leicester Square Hall, and his negotiation of television contracts. His younger brother Fred Davis was the only person to beat Joe Davis in a competitive snooker match without receiving a start.
In 1955, Davis was the first player to make an officially recognised maximum break. He collapsed whilst watching Fred play Perrie Mans in the semi-final of the 1978 World Snooker Championship. Whilst convalescing, Davis contracted a chest infection that led to his death on 10 July that year.