James Harris, a legendary WWE wrestler known by fans as “Kamala” or “The Ugandan Giant,” has passed away at age 70.
In a statement released on its website on Sunday, the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. announced the devastating news that the respected athlete had died.
“Under the frightening face paint of Kamala, the 6-foot-7, 380-pound Harris battled the greatest Superstars in sports-entertainment history, including Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker and Andre the Giant,” the organization wrote. “He terrorized opponents and thrilled audiences in Mid-South, World Class Championship Wrestling, WCW and WWE until 2006. WWE extends its condolences to Harris’ family, friends and fans.”
Sunday on Facebook, Kenny Casanova — who had co-authored Harris’ autobiography, “Kamala Speaks” — wrote that the ring star passed away due to the coronavirus.
“Just got off the phone. Unfortunately, the rumors were correct. To make matters worse, it was Corona that took him; he was one of the good ones,” Casanova said.
“Kamala was one of the most believable monsters in wrestling. He played the role perfectly, but was also one of the nicest guys you could meet. In helping him get his book out there, we became pretty close over the years and I am happy to have been his friend,” Casanova continued.
Per The Washington Post, Harris had suffered numerous health ailments in recent years, and had both of his legs amputated due to diabetes complications.
Born in Senatobia, Mississippi, on May 28, 1950, Harris dropped out of high school in the ninth grade and supported himself with a variety of jobs, including truck driving.
In 1982, Harris met promoter Jerry Lawler, who pitched him the character of “Kamala” — a caricature of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
While playing “Kamala,” Harris entered the ring barefoot while wearing warpaint and a loincloth.
Though many have accused the character of perpetuating negative stereotypes, Harris told hobotrashcan.com in 2006, “I liked stuff like that. Lawler asked me if I was going to be ashamed to do it, but I’m not ashamed to do stuff like that. I enjoyed it.”
Per the Washington Post, Harris had been married three times.
Our condolences go out to James’ family, friends, and fans for their loss.