Joshua Davis is a writer, film producer and co-founder of Epic Magazine and Epic Digital. He is the author of the book Spare Parts (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2014), which was adapted into a film by Lionsgate starring George Lopez, Marisa Tomei, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
In 2001, Josh became part of the US Arm-wrestling Team after placing fourth out of four in the lightweight division at the National Arm-wrestling Finals. As a result, he traveled with the US team to Poland to compete in the World Arm-wrestling Championship where he placed 17th out of 18 (the 18th guy didn’t show up). Josh has never won a competitive match, but he is now an internationally ranked arm-wrestler. The documentary film he directed about his experiences won Best Documentary at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival.
In 2003, Josh covered the Iraq war for Wired Magazine, where he is a Contributing Editor. He has tracked rumors of genetically modified cocaine behind rebel lines in Colombia, investigated the world’s largest diamond heist, and hunted the source of a cyberwar in Russia. Josh’s work has thrice been selected “Best of Technology Writing” by Yale University Press and has also been anthologized in the 2007 and 2012 editions of “Best American Science Writing.” In 2014, he was nominated for a National Magazine Award.
In 2005, Random House published Josh’s memoir, The Underdog, which details his journey through some of the world’s most outlandish competitions. The Los Angeles Times calls it “laugh out loud funny,” and Entertainment Weekly declares “the rewarding Underdog proves that Davis is a winner at something.” His magazine writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Wired, GQ, Outside, Food & Wine, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health and Maxim.
In 2013, Josh and Joshuah Bearman formed EPIC, a magazine devoted to extraordinary true stories. The venture comes on the heels of Argo, the Academy Award-winning film, which was based on an article Bearman wrote. Over the past 10 years, Josh and Bearman have sold 22 articles to Hollywood, with 2 films produced. Josh was a finalist for the 2014 National Magazine Award in Feature Writing.Download Bio
Spare PartsFour Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream
In 2004, four Latino teenagers arrived at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Robotics Competition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They were born in Mexico but raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where they attended an underfunded public high school. No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much—but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these impoverished, undocumented kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot.
Inspirational Stories Whether it's chronicling the careers of sauna-ers, arm wrestlers, and other bizarre athletes, or revealing how a group of undocumented Mexican Americans beat the odds to win a robot-building contest, Josh is a master of the underdog tale. In addition to relaying the stories of some of his subjects, he reveals some of the personal obstacles he's had to overcome.
- Linda Herrera, Salem Library
"It's amazing when a presenter can captivate an entire auditorium of students, based simply on spectacular storytelling skills - no games, gimmicks, or videos. Joshua Davis connected with the audience by demonstrating deep empathy and understanding of the difficulties and hardships many students face, so much so that the entire audience broke out in to applause several times without cue. He inspires all of us, even those with seemingly little hope, to step out of our comfort zones and take chances."
- Michael Vossen, Teacher at Menlo-Atherton High School
"Josh Davis was one of the best speakers we have ever had. He was dry and self-effacing but pointed in his commentary regarding both his career and his subjects.He raised great questions regarding our immigration and education policies. I particularly enjoyed his politically incorrect comments regarding the stultifying nature of remedial English and Math. The "Spare Parts" story also challenged the issue of how to tap into the potential of our undocumented immigrants and our neighbors in border and near border nations. Definitely a challenge for the 21st century."
- Patrick Maier, Teacher at Menlo-Atherton High School
"I thought his talk was fun and informative. He showed the students that you can major in one area and go into a different field and you can grow from your life experiences. He explained how taking risks (with the arm wrestling contest) led him to a career in journalism. He also broke down the stereotypes some students might have about undocumented students and what happens to those students after they leave high school and go into the world. Due to our laws and other factors, some of the students they beat in the competition are now successful professionals making a lot of money, whereas the heroes in the book have had to struggle a lot more. It sparked thinking about the immigration debate."
- Francine Andrade, Guidance Counselor at Menlo-Atherton High School
"Josh hit it out of the ballpark. His kindness and attentiveness to our students made a huge impression, and his wonderful talk was a huge hit. He connected with everyone around him and I received great feedback from so many people. He made the day--and his work--unforgettable."
- Hood College
“We are so grateful for Josh’s visit to St. Luke's. What a huge impression he made on our community. The students are still talking about it. And not just the arm-wrestling! I think the best part of his visit was the way that je modeled for our community a passion for learning and discovery.”
- St. Luke's School
“Joshua was so interactive with the students, and many faculty commented on the how much they enjoyed his presentation.”
- Norwalk Community College
“Josh is a road warrior and a showman in addition to being a gifted writer.”
- Mount Vernon City Library