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UPDATE: More Details on WWE Alum Kamala’s Passing at 70

August 9, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Kamala

UPDATE: The cause for James “Kamala” Harris’ passing earlier today has been confirmed by his wife. Bleacher Report’s Jason King noted on Twitter that he spoke with the late WWE alumnus’ wife, who revealed that Harris tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, likely from one of his weekly visits to get dialysis done. He was hospitalized that night and had been in good spirits this morning, but went into cardiac arrest and passed away this afternoon.

ORIGNAL: 2020 has taken another legend of the wrestling business from us, as James Harris — best known as Kamala — has passed away. The Cauliflower Alley Club announced on Twitter that Harris passed away at the age of 70. The details surrounding his passing have not yet been revealed, though he has been dealing with several health issues over the last several years, including having both of his legs amputated due to diabetes and going on life support in 2017 after undergoing emergency surgery.

Harris began his career in 1978 under the ring name of “Sugar Bear” Harris and was managed by Percy Pringle. He won titles early in in NWA Tri-State and Southeastern Championship Wrestling, before going over to Europe where he developed the4 first seeds of the character he would become most famous for when he worked as the Mississippi Mauler. He eventually returned to the US in 1982 and worked for Jerry Lawler, who worked with Jerry Jarrett to develop the Kamala character for Harris.

As Kamala, Harris would go on to great success in Lawler’s Continental Wrestling Association and Mid-South Wrestling, as well as WCCW. He made his WWF debut as Kamala in 1984 after Andre the Giant pushed the company to sign him. Managed by Freddie Blassie, he would go on to challenge Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship in August of that year. He would exit the company in 1984 but returned in 1986 and 1987. He would make a second return in 1992 before going into semi-retirement, brought out for a brief run in WCW in 1995. From there he would continue to make sporadic WWE appearances, as well as working regularly on the independent circuit. His final match was in 2010 at a Juggalo Championship Wrestling show, teaming with the Weedman to defeat Pauly and Vito Thomaselli.

While his times in WWE were not generally very long, Kamala’s cartoonish character and unique look made him an instantly-recognizable performer and he has long been recognized as an icon of last 1980s and early 1990s WWF. On behalf of 411, our condolences to the family, friends, and many fans of Kamala; he will most certainly be missed.

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Kamala, WWE, Jeremy Thomas