James Harris, Towering Wrestler Known as Kamala, Dies at 70

A previous marriage to Clara Freeman ended in divorce. His son, James Jr., passed away in 2005. In addition to his partner, he is survived by his sibling Emma Harris Caldwell.
Mr. Harris remained bitter about the bad pay he got, but he also expressed pride in his battling profession.
” It offered me an identity,” he told the sports site Bleacher Report. Assessing the production of Kamala, he stated, “You could state I was born two times.”

Mr. Harris passed away on Aug. 9 at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford. His better half, Emmer Jean Bradley Harris, said the cause was Covid-19.
After debuting in a local fumbling league in the South in 1978, Mr. Harris cycled through aliases. Mr. Harris played the part. James Arthur Harris was born in Senatobia, Miss., south of Memphis, on May 28, 1950, to Jessie Harris and Betsy Mosely, children of sharecroppers.

This obituary becomes part of a series about individuals who have actually died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.
As an expert wrestler, James Harris was Kamala, the “Ugandan Giant” who filled the ring with his menacing wails. Billed most often at 6 feet 7 inches high and weighing about 400 pounds, he overlooked challengers, an edge he made use of by tilting back, raising a fist high above his head and then swinging it downward, appearing to strike opponents with the force of his entire body.
Outside the ring, this colossus disappeared. He pulled back to his hotel room after battles, not wanting to be heard laughing in public (lest he overthrow the image of the mad Kamala). He avoided dining establishments, rather cooking catfish and hush pups in his apartment.
” He didnt desire to ever be seen, the huge monster at the bar just type of socializing with individuals and eating a sandwich,” Kenny Casanova, the co-author of Mr. Harriss autobiography, “Kamala Speaks,” stated in a phone interview. “You could not hang out with King Kong.”

In interviews, he acknowledged the racial stereotypes of his character, though he stopped short of saying sorry. “It may have been a bit of a disgrace to the Blacks,” he once informed a regional TV station, “but, you know, I was simply concerned about making a few dollars.”

In 1986, when Mr. Harris challenged Hulk Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship, Mr. Hogan showed up in face paint, mimicking Kamalas.
It was Mr. Harriss job to lose to white heroes like Mr. Hogan while audiences roared in pleasure. When fans werent fleing from Mr. Harris in fear, Mr. Casanova stated, they in some cases tossed batteries at him or punctured his cars tires.
Like other Black wrestlers, Mr. Harris was relegated to the role of the “heel,” the fumbling term for bad man, and he made only a fraction of the cash his more popular white counterparts gained. He left the World Wrestling Federation in 1993.
” My drawing power was gone,” he informed the pop culture website HoboTrashcan in 2009, “due to the fact that nobody wants to see a loser all the time.”
James Arthur Harris was born in Senatobia, Miss., south of Memphis, on May 28, 1950, to Jessie Harris and Betsy Mosely, children of sharecroppers. His father passed away when James was a kid, and James went to operate in the cotton fields with his mother and siblings. He quit Coldwater High School in ninth grade and engaged in minor criminal offense for a time.
After battling, he carried asphalt as a trucker and reappeared as Kamala at small-time gigs in high school health clubs. In 2011 and 2012, complications of diabetes led to amputations of his legs. He counted on disability checks and had a hard time to manage fundamental necessities.

Mr. Harris passed away on Aug. 9 at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford. He was 70. His wife, Emmer Jean Bradley Harris, said the cause was Covid-19.
After debuting in a local wrestling league in the South in 1978, Mr. Harris cycled through aliases. He began drawing crowds in 1982 after donning his “headhunter” regalia, wrestling barefoot with a loin cloth and spear. By 1984 he remained in the World Wrestling Federation facing a crowd favorite, Andre the Giant, in matches billed as “fight of the giants.”
As a racist caricature of an African tribal warrior, Kamala was fearsome yet bumbling. He wore vibrant monochromatic face paint and was subservient to a white “handler,” who used a pith helmet and purchased Kamala around with a riding crop. Commentators derided him as “confused” or trumpeted him as “cannibalistic, uncivilized, unforeseeable.”
Mr. Harris played the part. After leaning into his long windup and landing among his chops, he would strut and slap his stomach in pride. He pretended not to comprehend fundamental rules of fumbling.