Another legend of the wrestling business is gone as James Harris, better known to wrestling fans as Kamala the Ugandan Giant, has sadly passed away. Famous for portraying the body-painted pro wrestler across the world in a variety of wrestling promotions, Kamala had multiple runs in the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in the '80s and '90s. Although a cause of death has not yet been revealed, WWE now reports that the unique wrestler has passed away at the age of 70 years old.
Harris had been suffering from major health issues over the past decade. In 2011, the former wrestling star had his left leg amputated below the knee due to complications of high blood pressure and diabetes, effectively putting an end to his wrestling career. The following year, Harris' right leg was also amputated, and a crowdfunding campaign was launched to assist him with his medical bills. His health problems took a turn for the worse in 2017 when he had to undergo emergency surgery to clear fluid from around his heart and lungs. The incident left him on life support and in intensive care.
Although he played the role of an African headhunter exceptionally well, Harris was in fact born and raised in Mississippi. He began his wrestling career in 1978 when he originally competed as "Sugar Bear" Harris. The wrestler would compete for various promotions in the Southern United States before winding up at Jerry Lawler's Memphis-based CWA in 1982. It was there when he first started painting himself up to look like a Ugandan headhunter, adopting the career-making Kamala name. To look the part, Harris would paint stars and a moon on his chest in addition to painting his face.
By 1984, Harris had made it to the WWF where he was first managed by "Classy" Freddy Blassie and later by Harvey Wippleman and the masked Kim Chee. He had even managed to get a championship match against Hulk Hogan during his first year in the company, with the match resulting in a double count-out. Kamala is also well known for his feud against the Undertaker in the early 90s, with Harris losing to the Deadman in the company's first ever televised "casket match." As Kamala, Harris would also have memorable bouts with major stars like Randy Savage, Bret Hart, and the Ultimate Warrior.
After Harris left WWE, he found work as a truck driver, though he continued to work for other wrestling promotions. He would also make occasional returns to WWE programming over the years, including a spot in the "Gimmick Battle Royal" at WrestleMania X-Seven. Harris would later make a guest appearance for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling at their annual Slammiversary pay-per-view event in 2008. Before his forced retirement, Harris had competed in his final match as Kamala in 2010 for the Insane Clown Posse's Juggalo Championship Wrestling promotion -- winning the match as part of a tag team with Weedman.
Wrestling fans can never forget the man who portrayed Kamala the Ugandan Giant for so many years, especially with the wrestler serving as one of the most memorable villains of pro wrestling's "Golden Era." Those who want to find out more about James Harris can check out the wrestler's biography, Kamala Speaks, which was co-written with Kenny Casanova and published in 2015. Our thoughts go out to Harris' family and friends at this difficult time. May he rest in peace. This news comes to us from the official WWE.com.