By Mike Mooneyham
July 26, 2004
Henry Marcus, who promoted professional wrestling in South Carolina for half a century, passed away Sunday at a Manning hospital at the age of 93.
Marcus was a promoter extraordinaire who also brought ice shows, the Harlem Globetrotters and rock and roll revues to venues throughout the state.
Marcus was known as “the dean of wrestling promoters” in South Carolina. His weekly Friday night shows at the old County Hall on King Street were a staple for local mat fans for many years. He also promoted weekly Tuesday night shows at the Township Auditorium in Columbia, as well as occasional programs in Florence, Sumter and smaller towns across the state.
When County Hall was closed as an auditorium in 1985, Marcus moved his wrestling shows to the old St. Andrews High School gym and later to Johnson Hagood Stadium.
Marcus blessed the Lowcountry with some of the country’s top wrestling for those many years, making Friday nights special for thousands of area fans. The biggest names in the business appeared here during the 48 years that Marcus promoted – from the original Gorgeous George to Lou Thesz to Ric Flair. The man affectionately known as “High Pockets” – called that because of his penchant for hitching his trousers up to his belly button – once brought the original Superman and Lois Lane to Columbia’s Township Auditorium and had Jesse Owens race a thoroughbred horse through that town’s Capital City Park.
Marcus also was a familiar figure in Charleston, where the master storyteller routinely held court with local businessmen, politicians, newshounds and practically anyone who appreciated his unique gift of gab. His scope of acquaintances, however, extended far beyond the Lowcountry and the state, as he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Tyrone Power and Harry Truman, and was personal friends with such sports figures as Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis.
Marcus worked in the circulation department of The Record newspaper in Columbia before he began promoting part-time during the 1930s. A special ceremony – titled “The Night The Legends Return: A Tribute to Henry Marcus” – was held in honor of the promoter in 1998 at the former King Street Palace and the site of the old County Hall.
Marcus was born May 21, 1911, in Hartsville.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Hebrew Benevolent Society in Columbia.