His introduction to weightlifting was similar to thousands of other youngsters across America in the 1960s. “I started lifting weights with a 110-pound set in my basement,” “Pep” Wahl recalled. But unlike many adolescents, whose barbells ended up in a dusty corner awaiting a garage sale, Wahl never really stopped lifting. “The bug hit me early,” he said. Wahl lifted while attending Hoban High School, where he played on the golf team. He lifted while working on his philosophy degree at The University of Akron. He lifted when managing at Firestone tire store in Akron for six years. Finally, in June of 1979, Wahl turned his hobby into a career, opening the Body Building Gym on East Tallmadge Avenue in Akron. Three years later, this self-taught weightlifter and coach would lead a team to the first of eight Ohio powerlifting championships. Wahl’s reputation spread quickly, and soon he was attracting some of top powerlifters from northeast Ohio to his gym. At one time, Wahl had a dozen “elite” lifters under his wing, men such as Akron’s Jim Finch, a multiple Ohio champion and 1985 national runner-up at 148 pounds. Wahl’s most accomplished pupil, however, was Stark County’s Dave Jacoby, who was an eight-time national champion and five-time world champion between 1984 and ’92. Jacoby was inducted into this Hall of Fame in 1995. Wahl’s expertise has not been limited to competitive weightlifters. Among the hundreds of athletes who have passed through his gym’s doors were professional football players Mike Fox, Doug Marsh, and Chris Spielman; former pro baseball player Josh Zwisler; track and football standout Nate Riles; and NCAA national wrestling champion Markus Mollica. Wahl also has been a leader in many of the governing organizations of his sport, serving as chairman of the National Physique Committee, regional chairman for the U. S. Powerlifting Federation, and Ohio chairman for the North America Body Builders Association.