November 8, 2005
PAVO -- For those of you who's only knowledge of arm wrestling comes from the Sylvester Stallone classic "Over the Top," you should know one of the giants in the sport hails from right here in South Georgia.
Cleve Deen recently won SIX world titles at the Arm Sport World Championships in Japan, and these titles may be the most impressive of his distinguished career.
Deen was at the top of the arm wrestling world, before deciding to walk away when it was no longer challenging.
Two years ago, he decided to give the sport another try.
Deen says, "To come back at the age of 50 and do what I was trying to do was supposed to be impossible."
For a while it seemed to be, as Deen was hospitalized with serious leg injuries which prevented him from competing.
Even now, he still needs two canes to walk, but that didn't stop Deen from dominating the competition in Japan and adding to his collection of well over 100 world titles.
He won the Over Forty, Over Fifty, and Open divisions both right AND left handed at the World Championships.
"By the grace of the good Lord I stayed healthy and strong that day, as did my wife, and between the two of us we came home with nine medals. I thought that was pretty darn good."
Deen's wife Ruth is very involved with the sport, winning three medals of her own at the Championships in Japan.
After the interview, she even challenged this reporter to a left-handed pull.
How did our match turn out?
Well let's just say there's no shame in losing to a World Champion.
Deen says there will be an arm wrestling tournament at the Hooters in Albany in March, which is probably just enough time to prepare for a rematch.