AceShowbiz - Another public figure has succumbed to the novel coronavirus. WWE star James "Kamala" Harris has died at 70 years old. The World Wrestling Entertainment website confirmed the sad news in a statement released on Sunday, August 9.
"WWE is saddened to learn that James Harris, known to WWE fans as Kamala, has passed away at age 70," read the statement. "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."
"He terrorized opponents and thrilled audiences in Mid-South, World Class Championship Wrestling, WCW and WWE until 2006," it continued, before stating that "WWE extends its condolences to Harris' family, friends and fans."
The WWE didn't disclose the cause of death, but according to Kenny Casanova, the writer who co-authored James' autobiography "Kamala Speaks", the former wrestler died after contracting COVID-19. "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," so the author wrote on Facebook.
"Kamala was one of the most believable monsters in wrestling," he remembered the late star. "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..."
According to The Washington Post, James had suffered from many health issues in recent years and had both of his legs amputated due to complications from diabetes.
Tributes have since poured in from the wrestling community and WWE fans, with wrestler Elijah Burke a.k.a. Da Pope writing, "Another legend who deserved to be in @WWE Hall of Fame and ALIVE when that time came." He added, "An all around great talent and good guy that got over and stood out wherever he went. RIP to the great 'Ugandan Giant' Kamala. His memory will live on forever."
WWE referee Tom Castor also mourned the death, posting on Instagram, "Rest In Peace Kamala. One of my favorites to watch as a kid. I'm so happy I was able to share the ring with you during my career. Your larger than life character will live on forever in our business."
James wrestled under the monikers Sugar Bear Harris and the Mississippi Mauler before adopting the name Kamala. He was recognized by his tribal look, where he donned warpaint and a loincloth as he "would enter the ring barefoot and barely speak any words and was very primal as he terrorized his opponents," as described by Deadline.
He stepped back from the ring in 1984 before returning in 1986 under new management by The Wizard and was "handled by" a masked person named Kim Chee. He eventually retired from the WWF (now WWE) in 1987.