With an induction class that includes a headliner like two-time Superbowl MVP Eli Manning, the 2023 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductees is already shaping up to be a stellar one. But this year's class also includes a champion weightlifter with ties to UL.

Walter Imahara "was a six-time USA national champion in the 60kg (132-pound) weight class while competing in the press, snatch and clean & jerk," according to the Hall of Fame's press release.

But, when he was at UL (then Southwestern Louisiana), he was a national champion who led the university to acclaim.

Imahara joined the UL-Lafayette weightlifting team and was an All-American when the program won the 1957 NCAA team title – the first-ever for the school. He was the NCAA featherweight champion in 1957, 1959 and 1960 — improving his total each time, lifting a total of 645 pounds in 1957, 695 pounds in 1959 and 725 pounds in 1960 when he was named an All-American and earned “Best Lifter” acclaim.

Walter Imahara, courtesy Ragincajuns.com.
Walter Imahara, courtesy Ragincajuns.com.

Eli Manning headlines the 2023 induction class. He and Imahara are joined by four-time WNBA All-Star Alana Beard and College World Series champion LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri.

Also on the ticket are All-American LSU pitcher Paul Byrd, a 14-year Major League Baseball veteran who made the 1999 All-Star Game; Shreveport native Wendell Davis, who shattered LSU football receiving records before heading to the NFL; and retired Baton Rouge-Parkview Baptist baseball coach M.L. Woodruff, whose teams claimed 11 state championships.

The induction ceremony will be Saturday, July 29, at the Hall of Fame’s home in Natchitoches.

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