James Harris, better known to wrestling fans as Kamala, the Ugandan Giant, passed away Sunday due to complications from COVID-19. He was 70.
Harris adopted the Kamala (originally Kimala) persona in 1982 in Memphis’ promotion. The character was a Ugandan headhunter who had worked as a bodyguard for deposed Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
Kamala was an effective monster heel, and agile for his size (usually billed as 6-foot-7, 380 pounds). The role was not exactly PC: Kamala worked barefoot, carried a spear, wore a loincloth and spoke by grunting. He had a "handler." Announcers referred to Kamala as a savage, or a beast. You couldn’t use that persona today, but it made Harris a living.
Memphis wrestling legend and long-time WWE announcer Jerry Lawler invented the character. The introductory video below was shot in Lawler’s backyard, not the African bush.
James Harris was a respected performer and a good man. Kamala, RIP.
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