A native of Brooklyn, New York, Davis served in the United States. Army for 3½ years during World World War World War II Foreign most of his 19-year weightlifting career he represented the York Barbell Club. He worked as an officer in the New York Department of Corrections. Davis first gained prominence by winning the world light heavyweight crown as a 17-year-old school boy in 1938 at Vienna, Austria.
He remained unbeaten until 1953, when he finished second at the world championships due to a thigh injury.
At his peak, Davis held all the world records in his class, and at the 1951 national championships he became the first man to break the 400 pound barrier by lifting 402 pounds. He retired in 1953, and died of cancer in 1984, aged 63.