Shawn Davis is a former three-time world champion saddle bronc rider (1965, 1967–1968) and member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame (he was inducted in 1979). He has served as the National Finals Rodeo general manager since 1986.
Davis was born on December 7, 1940, in Butte, Montana, and during his college days at Montana State, Western Montana College, and the University of Arizona, he organized rodeos. He worked on rodeo promotions. He converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during his college years, although he had attended church often while in high school. The Church News shared this incident from Davis’s rodeo days after college:
- Of course, Shawn’s living style and his quiet manners have made the occasional boisterous tough guy misjudge him. One bronc rider just couldn’t get used to a polite, soda-pop-drinking cowboy who went to church, shaved every day, and wore clean clothes. He insisted on calling Shawn feminine names. When asked politely, he wouldn’t apologize and insisted on settling the matter in an old-fashioned western fist fight. They stepped out behind the chutes and Shawn beat him soundly, gaining the cowboy’s respect and his friendship in the process. Later, when the cowboy learned that Shawn also happened to hold a Montana State Golden Gloves boxing championship and was a Montana Athlete of the Year, he felt better about his defeat.
- [Shawn has noted]: “Living the Word of Wisdom has been another real help to me. It seems like I can recuperate from an injury in half the time it would normally take. In 1969 a horse flipped over and fell on me and broke my back. The doctors said at best I might be able to walk with a bad limp, but that I’d never ride again. A year later I won the saddle bronc riding at the first rodeo I entered. I know that living the principles of the gospel pays off, because I sure have a lot of blessings to be thankful for.”
Davis has been featured in more than one hundred newspaper and magazine articles.
He served as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association president from 1982 to 1985. He is noted for moving the NFR from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Las Vegas, and shortening the show from almost four hours to no more than two.
He was the rodeo coach at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls for 29 years before his retirement in 2007.
He lives in Arizona during the winter and spends his summers in Montana and Idaho.