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Mick Foley Writes Tribute in Remembrance of James ‘Kamala’ Harris

August 11, 2020 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris

As noted, former WWE Superstar and wrestling legend Kamala (aka James Harris) passed away earlier this week at age 70. WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley shared a post on his Facebook account this week, paying tribute to the wrestler. You can read his full post below:


In our business, there is a lesson to be learned from every city we travel to, and from every opponent we lock up with. Of course the lessons about timing, selling, crowd psychology – and so many other in-ring lessons are all valuable. But sometimes the most valuable lessons we learn have nothing to do with how we conduct ourselves inside the ring, but everything to do with how we conduct ourselves outside of it.

I was saddened to learn of the death of James “Kamala” Harris, a legend in our pro-wrestling business, who drew money just about everywhere he went- Memphis, Mid-South, World Class, and especially WWE. I wrestled Kamala when I was an extra for WWE at a TV taping in 1986. The match itself was over in less than 90 seconds. But the lesson I learned from this gentle giant was one I have never forgotten.

I was barely 21 at the time, with maybe a couple dozen matches to my credit – and Kamala was in the middle of a monster push which would see him do big business at the top of the card with Hulk Hogan. On the surface, my job seemed easy -just take a little bit of the big man’s offense, and then be there for the splash off the top rope. I’d be lying if I said the idea of being splashed from such a height, from such a mountain of a man wasn’t a little bit daunting, but like anyone in my shoes, I was more concerned with making sure that everything I did looked good for my opponent. I just wanted to do the best possible job I could.

Kamala worked light for such a big man. This was only my fourth match as WWE enhancement talent, and I was prepared for a shellacking. The moves have to look good on TV, and the time-tested way to make sure the moves look good with a novice opponent is to lay that stuff in. That was certainly the way that “The Dynamite Kid” Tommy Billington had worked with me in my first WWE enhancement experience- a match that resulted with me losing the ability to chew solid food for a few weeks. My jaw was dislocated that night in Providence, Rhode Island, and that misalignment of my jaw resulted in me having two teeth knocked in the following night against the Killer Bees (through no fault of their own) in Hartford, Connecticut. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say Hercules was stiff with me during our time in the a couple months later, I will go so far as to say he was definitely snug! Kamala, however, was light as a feather – an unexpected, but very much appreciated relief.

The big man reared back for a forearm across the back – and in every enhancement guy’s worst nightmare, I went down before the blow ever reached me. My heart sunk in my chest, knowing that I had messed up the entire match. I then lay in anticipation of the big splash off the top rope, knowing that whatever physical pain it caused could not complete the heartache I was feeling. And still, despite having ruined the entire match, James Harris took care of me on that splash. Oh it was snug… the only part of his offensive game that wasn’t light. But it certainly wasn’t retribution for me screwing up a match during the biggest push of Kamala’s career. I guessed that restitution would come later in the form of a backstage ass kicking, or maybe at the very least, a considerable ass chewing in front of the other WWE superstars in the dressing room.

As soon as he entered, I almost literally threw myself at the big man’s mercy. “I’m so sorry”, I said, the very the mountain of a man walked through the locker room door. “ I don’t know what happened. I was so nervous. I am so sorry..”

I remember his reply like it was yesterday. “Yeah…I was wondering what happened there.”

That was it. No brow-beating…no ass-chewing… no making me feel worse than I already felt – just a gentle, understanding voice, teaching me a lesson in wrestling…and life, that I would never forget. In that moment, I had a crystal clear thought – something close to a wrestling epiphany – a thought that is just as clear to me today as it was that night almost 34 years ago. “If I ever get to be a star, and someone messes up, I am going to treat them the way Kamala just treated me, because I like the way this feels.” it’s almost word-for-word the thought I had after rooming with former WWF champion Ivan Koloff in 1990 – “ if I ever get to be a top star, this is the way I’m going to treat people” – and together, my 1986 experience with Kamala, and my 1990 experience with Ivan Koloff are the two most positive examples of huge stars being kinder, gentler and better to me than they needed to be – simply because they were good men with big hearts who believed in the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

God bless you James Harris. Your soft words were heard loud and clear – and gave me hope that one day I could grow up be both a star as big as you, and a man as great as you. #RIPKamala

A GoFundMe page has also been launched with a goal of raising $10,000 towards the funeral expenses for Harris’ family, along with helping his wife, Emmer Jean, get back on her feet after she was forced to quit her job to care for Harris full time after he lost both of his legs to diabetes.

article topics :

Kamala, Mick Foley, Jeffrey Harris