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Who is Cleve Dean? The Journey of an Arm-Wrestling World Champion

MuscleMecca Crew

MuscleMecca Crew

MuscleMecca Crew
May 11, 2012
Few names carry the same significance as Cleve Dean's in the exciting world of arm wrestling. The competition requires brute force and technique to choose champions. He emerged as a legend in arm wrestling when he dominated competitions and captivated viewers with his unquestionable prowess.

Originally from rural Georgia, Cleve Dean's rise from a small town to an international star showed his strength and determination to beat anyone who dared to fight him. Cleve Dean rose to prominence in arm wrestling due to his tremendous physical prowess, enormous size, and persistent dedication.

Early Life and Background​

Cleve Dean was born on December 15, 1953, and grew up in Pavo, Georgia. Dean's upbringing amid rural Georgia's fields and agricultural background instilled a work ethic and a will to succeed. Cleve's reputation as the toughest kid in town began at a young age. When Dean finally turned 18, he began competing in arm wrestling.

Cleve Dean was good at arm wrestling but was also very close to his background as a farmer. Dean worked hard to care for his farm and raise hogs like many others in his town. His job as a farmer needed him to be very strong and to work hard for long hours.

Dean's challenging work on the farm helped him build a strong body and gave him the base he needed to be strong.

Introduction to Arm Wrestling​

His natural physical advantages, developed through years of farming, helped him rise to the top of the arm wrestling scene. Dean, who is 6 feet 7 inches tall and over 400 pounds heavy, will become a dominant force in arm wrestling. His huge hands, firm grasp, and rippling muscles made him an unstoppable force, and his opponents typically succumbed to his superior physicality.

Dean first entered the world of arm wrestling in the late 1970s when he began competing in events held throughout Georgia. His natural physical advantages, developed through years of farming, helped him rise to the top of the arm wrestling scene.

The sport of arm wrestling was just beginning to gain worldwide popularity during his time. Before his meteoric popularity in 1977, Dean mainly competed in regional events. Despite his defeat in the championship bout in December 1977, a legend was born in arm wrestling.

Cleve Dean Arm Wrestler


Over a decade, Cleve Dean made a lasting impression on arm wrestling with his unparalleled power, domination, and oversized ego. Dean's journey had many victories, famous rivalries, and a legacy that inspires arm wrestlers today, from local events in Georgia to worldwide stages.

John Brzenk, a different well-known arm wrestling icon, was one of his most prominent opponents and became one of his most notable foes. The bouts between Dean and Brzenk were some of the most intense and unforgettable in the sport's history.

During the arm wrestling film Over The Top production, Dean also became friends with Sylvester Stallone. Cleve's role in the movie would be minor, but he would play himself in the championship event.

Dean would grip his opponent's hand tightly and apply enormous pressure with his fingers, making it difficult for them to resist. His remarkable hand and finger endurance allowed him to keep a grip for long periods and made him win several arm wrestling competitions.

Highlights and Accolades​

Dean then took part in many different events and won more than 90 titles around the world. He did many great things during his extraordinary life and won many important awards. He won two super-match titles against Virgil Arciero and Dan Mason. Here are some tournament titles he also received during his career:

  • 1978-1980 World Wrist wrestling Championship Title
  • 1979-1980 AAA Sit-Down National Titles
  • 1980-1981 AAA Stand-Up National Titles
  • 1981 IWC International
  • 1981-1983 WPAA World Titles
  • 1983 AWI World Title Pro Heavyweight
  • 1983-1985 World Wrist wrestling Championship Title
  • 1984-1986 AAA Stand-Up National Titles
  • 1984 AAA Stand-Up National Title
  • 1994 WAF World Title
  • 1994 Yukon Jack World Title
  • 2001 AAA Stand-Up National Title
  • 2001 WAF World Title
  • 2005 AAA Stand-Up National Title
  • 2005 WAF World Title

Cleve Dean belongs to the Arm Wrestling Hall of Fame after he died to honor his outstanding efforts and accomplishments. This prestigious award shows how much he changed the sport for the better and cemented his place as one of the most renowned arm wrestlers in history.

Personal Life​

As an arm wrestler, Cleve Dean stayed close to his farming roots. He worked hard at his job, working the land, growing food, and caring for animals.

Dean's life as a farmer helped him get strong both physically and mentally. Dean's character came from his hard work on the farm, which often involved lifting heavy loads, dealing with different weather, and keeping the discipline needed to care for crops and animals. It helped him prepare for the challenges he would face on the arm wrestling tour.

His uncompromising character inspired those struggling, proving that anything is possible with hard work and an unyielding attitude. People from all walks of life can find inspiration in Dean's tale and be encouraged to pursue their dreams.


Dean has had an incredible impact on the world of arm wrestling. His remarkable demonstrations of power mesmerized people worldwide, and his TV appearances helped introduce the sport to a broader audience. His oversized personality and genuine kindness won fans over, and the sport of arm wrestling gained new respect.

His unrivaled strength on the arm wrestling table was matched only by his remarkable sportsmanship, both in triumph and defeat. Dean's kindness made a lasting mark on everyone he met, and his reputation as a gentle giant lives on in the hearts of fans and rivals alike.


Cleve Dean's journey in arm wrestling and the changes he made to the sport show his excellent physical skills, unmatched power, and unbreakable spirit. Dean's place in arm wrestling history marked the industry, from his humble beginnings in Georgia to his victories on the world stage. His impact still inspires and pushes arm wrestlers to do their best, making his name a part of arm wrestling history for all time.

Frequently Asked Questions​

What happened to Cleve Dean?​

Cleve Dean passed away on March 14, 2011. Reports say that he died of a heart attack near Stockbridge, Georgia.

When did he retire?​

His final match was in 2008, and he officially quit the sport for good. In the early 1990s, Dean started to lose interest in arm wrestling and get worn down by it.

Did Cleve Dean have formal training for arm wrestling?​

No. Cleve Dean already gained strength when lifting bags of feed for his farm. But as Cleve reached the top of the arm wrestling world, he started delving further into the sport's technique. His approximately 10-inch hands and 24-inch biceps gave him an advantage in grasping his opponents during matches.