Owner Mahir Whitsett, started lifting at the early age of 13 years old. Having a love for the gym he became a “gym rat”, before becoming a lifting enthusiast in 1989. After high school he relocated to Andrews Air Force Base to live with his uncle to escape the mean streets of Chester Pennsylvania. He recalls, walking in the gym on the base and noticing the biggest, most muscular man he ever had seen and at that point an innate desire arose in him to have that “status”. In 1999, after beginning to lay the ground work for the basis of who he would become, he walked into the Dedication Gym at 51st & Lancaster and got inspired. Mahir recollects his inspiration being derived from two gentlemen that he would later call his mentors, that nearly “Lifted the Gym” and at the point his focus shifted from no longer wanting to be the biggest, but to be the strongest man in the gym.
Having raw undefined strength, he began to be molded by two of his gym buddies and mentors, Nate Kadle and John Richardson and at that point it wasn’t just a body being etched into a work of art but a mind that supported it. In 2001, He started his powerlifting journey and the story wrote itself from there. His raw strength, especially on the bench earned him the byname “freak of nature”; he undoubtedly still earned the title of the strongest man in most gyms throughout the Philadelphia region and beyond without the sport officially supporting him.
In 2003, at his second amateur meet he tore Tensor fasciae Latae muscle (hip) and as soon as he started he decided to quit the sport of powerlifting from injury. Resolving that perhaps his love for lifting had not reached the level of powerlifting but only found himself lifting to satisfy the desire that his mentors had once envisioned for him.
Still having the love for working out but lacking the interest in powerlifting, Mahir decided to continue his workout journey while shelving the powerlifting sport until 2013. A really good friend, Terrence Hawkins, while working out together encouraged Mahir to give competitive lifting another chance and at that point the brand Barbell Bullies’ foundation was being formed. Name creation took precedence because the information and knowledge was already there for Mahir. His lifting history was the basis of his knowledge as well as his self-driven nature to continue to expand his knowledge base.
As Mahir began the journey of formulating what would be the affluence of his brand he wanted to give the industry what it needed. He remembers saying, “Like Pepsi needed Coca Cola for competition, and I was ready to give the sport of powerlifting the competition it needed.”
At first, the name to Mahir was cliché. He didn’t like it. After watching a documentary on the biker club, “Hell’s Angels “he quickly realized he was satisfied with the name with the simple edit from bull-y to bull-ies. He wasn’t afraid to introduce his brand at a time when anti-bully campaigns had risen due to societal issues forming and stand behind the recreation of what, to him, a bully was and was meant to be.
Everyone could be a part of barbell bullies if you could possess the simple qualities and character that the brand mentality encompassed: if you could go to sleep in pain and commit back to that same process the next day then you have earned the admission into the barbell bullies clan!
When asked in recent interview, Mahir summed it up in this manner,” I’m my own competition, I am a presence, I don’t need the accolades but you will acknowledge my strength by action when you see me.”
Mahir continues to compete regionally and nationally but has taken a more profound interest in his exemplary ability to coach. He continues to lead his team as well as newly inspired novice to their greatest potential.