Legends Gather At King Street Palace

Charleston Post and Courier – June 21, 1998
By Mike Mooneyham

Once in a blue moon an event comes along that shouldn’t be missed.

The recent Low Country Wrestling Society reunion was one of those special occasions.

A number of former greats from the old Mid-Atlantic wrestling area gathered in Charleston on May 29-31 to take part in festivities that included an autograph session and an awards ceremony at the King Street Palace (the old County Hall), and a banquet at a downtown motel.

It was a special weekend of telling old “war stories,” reliving past triumphs and sharing tales of the road. It was a “Kodak moment” in the truest sense when Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson, one of the greatest teams in pro wrestling history, saw each other for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Ole Anderson, who didn’t look far removed from the days as one of the infamous Minnesota Wrecking Crew along with “brothers” Gene and Lars and as a member of the original Four Horsemen, got one of the biggest pops of the night from the crowd.

One of the most poignant moments of the awards ceremony came when emcee Steven DeTruth (Prazak) paid tribute to the legends who graced the hallowed hall for many years but had since passed on – stars like Skull Murphy and Brute Bernard, Gene Anderson, Aldo Bogni, Homer O’Dell, Rufus R. Jones. “If you look hard enough,” Prazak told the crowd, “you can still see them.”

And he was right.

There were those who wanted to be at the show but simply couldn’t due to circumstances beyond their control.

Wahoo McDaniel, whose legendary feud with Johnny Valentine made a number of stops in that very same building, was unable to make the trip due to failing health.

Ric Flair, who had some of his most memorable encounters during the first half of his illustrious career at County Hall, had planned to attend the event but was unable to make the show due to a family illness.

The highlights were many: Burrhead Jones juking and jiving, George “Two Ton” Harris doing his memorable strut (but no longer to the boos of the crowd), Hawk and Hanson sharing a ring entrance for the first time in more than two decades.

But it was “The Champ” – Johnny Valentine – who perhaps symbolized that golden age of wrestling more than anyone. Valentine, paralyzed in a 1975 plane crash at the pinnacle of his career, remains an imposing figure of a man despite his handicap and still has the ability to move a crowd.

Valentine, who walks with the help of leg braces, drew a thunderous ovation at the autograph session when he made his way into the ring and proceeded to deliver his signature sledgehammer blows to Tim Woods (the former masked Mr. Wrestling) and Burrhead Jones.

And who could ever forget the inimitable Thunderbolt Patterson, who took the art of the interview to a new level, and was the man behind the original “You better tell somebody!” line that has found a new audience via Road Dog (Brian Armstrong) of The New Age Outlaws.

The night, of course, belonged to 87-year-old Henry Marcus, promoter extraordinaire who for decades made Friday nights special for thousands of Lowcountry mat fans. Few have a resume like the man who promoted everything from pro wrestling to ice shows to the Harlem Globetrotters, brought the original Superman and Lois Lane to Columbia’s Township Auditorium, had Jesse Owens race a thoroughbred horse through that town’s Capital City Park and featured the likes of Joe Louis and the original Gorgeous George at County Hall.

It was, indeed, a night of the legends.

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