WWE wrestler James “Kamala” Harris has died. WWE confirmed his death on their official webpage He was 70.
The WWE statement did not say the cause of death but according to a Facebook post by Kenny Casanova, the writer who co-authored Harris’s autobiography, the wrestler died of the coronavirus. The Washington Post said that Harris suffered had many health issues and that both his legs were amputated in recent years due to complications with diabetes.
Standing at 6’7″ and weighing 380 pounds, fans knew Harris as wrestling superstar “Kamala” or “The Ugandan Giant”. Kamala was characterized by an African mask, warpaint and a loincloth. He would enter the ring barefoot and barely speak any words and was very primal as he terrorized his opponents. He was very much a fan favorite as he wrestled in the Mid-South, World Class Championship Wrestling, WCW and WWE until 2006.
Born on May 28, 1950 in Senatobia, Mississippi, Harris grew up in Jim Crow South and worked picking cotton and driving trucks. He soon moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan, where his career in wrestling began under the tutelage of wrestler Bobo Brazil. He wrestled under the monikers Sugar Bear Harris and the Mississippi Mauler before adopting the name Kamala.
His career was at its peak during the WWF-now-WWE’s ’80s heydays of Jake “The Snake” Roberts and the Hulk Hogan. He fought Andre the Giant in a series of matches before he step back from the scene in 1984.
He returned to the WWF in 1986 where he was under new management by The Wizard and was “handled by” a masked person named Kim Chee. He also faced Hulk Hogan in numerous matches for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. He bowed out of the WWF in 1987.