Yesterday, the wrestling world learned that former WWE and Mid-South legend James Harris - who worked as Sugar Bear Harris before adopting his best known gimmick of Kamala the Ugandan Headhunter - had died at age 70.
ESPN’s Jason King reported Harris died after suffering cardiac arrest, days after being diagnosed with and hospitalized for COVID-19. of heart failure. Harris’ wife believes he contracted the coronavirus while making required weekly visits to a dialysis center. The Mississippian dealt with numerous health issues, including diabetes.
Professionally, the 6’7”, 350+ pound Harris was as well-loved by the boys & girls in the back as he was awe-inspiring to the fans in the seats. He was most famous for a 1980s run challenging Hulk Hogan for the then-WWF title, and a return in the 1990s to work with Undertaker. Kamala last worked with WWE in 2006, and retired in 2010. In retirement, as his health allowed, he continued a singing & songwriting career he’d begun in the early 90s.
Remembrances & farewells have flooded social media since news of his death was confirmed last night.
WWE is saddened to learn that James Harris, known to WWE fans as Kamala, has passed away at age 70.https://t.co/d0kGY4GcTO— WWE (@WWE) August 10, 2020
Very sadden by the passing of Big Jim”Kamala”,like everyone else I would always ask if it was ok to take the leg drop for the finish as requested by the office.Jim would always say “let’s just keep making that money”,he was such a kind soul,RIP big brother,only love4U HH— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) August 10, 2020
Just been told that Kamala has passed away. pic.twitter.com/oBGnezmujn— Jerry Lawler (@JerryLawler) August 9, 2020
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I’m heartbroken to hear of the passing away of Big Jim Harris, aka Kamala. I met Jim in 1981 in Croydon, close to London England where he was breaking in as The Mississippi Mauler working with Big Daddy Crabtree. I caught up with him 3 years later as Kamala in WWE when he was a terrifying monster heel working on top with Hulk Hogan. Unlike his heel character, he was one of the friendliest, nicest, happy-go-lucky guys I ever knew in pro wrestling. I had the pleasure of working with him in 1992 when I was WWE champion. He was great to work with and I smile at the memories of him laughing so hard at my infamous blackboard drawings. He had a great sense of humour and, like Andre, he’d race into the dressing room to see what my latest cartoon was about. He always had a big smile despite all his challenges, including the loss of both legs. Always a kind and happy gentle soul. I’ll miss him for always being so good to me. R.I.P. Big Jim Harris.
I am so sorry to learn of the passing of James “Kamala” Harris. I wrestled him for 90 seconds in 1986, but the lesson he taught me that night about treating others with respect has never been forgotten. #RIPKamala https://t.co/fgIolg00aZ— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) August 10, 2020
My deepest condolences to the family of James Harris. I first saw him on TV when I was a child in the UK and at live shows as “The Missisippi Mauler” Big Jim Harris and then had the pleasure of being on shows with him in the US. A lovely man. https://t.co/dfYathRlyK— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) August 10, 2020
Thank you for sharing @IandrewDiceClay — this is a great photo of my dad pictured with Kamala and Hulk Hogan. It’s from the film “Mr Nanny.” We’re thinking of Kamala tonight❤️ pic.twitter.com/6nIEuvxeUh— NattieByNature (@NatbyNature) August 10, 2020
Saddened to hear the news of the passing of the great #Kamala....... first wrestler I had the pleasure of seeing live. I was a believer.— Bill Goldberg (@Goldberg) August 10, 2020
The Ugandan Warrior Kamala was an amazing performer— Tommy Dreamer (@THETOMMYDREAMER) August 9, 2020
I enjoyed all of his stuff
A character like that can never exist in todays world
Sad to hear his passing pic.twitter.com/HbkJJYozAU
RIP Kamala. I’m happy I had the opportunity to share a locker room with him many years ago. A giant of a gentleman. Godspeed sir. pic.twitter.com/G20iYuoojC— Frankie Kazarian (@FrankieKazarian) August 9, 2020
#RIPKamala Everybody's said it: Nice guy who protected his gimmick in public. I first met him as Sugar Bear Harris. Don't think we'll ever see anything like it again!— Tom Prichard (@drtomprichard) August 10, 2020
#RIPKamala Such a unique athlete/performer/gentleman! God bless you and your family! TR— Terri Runnels (@TheTerriRunnels) August 10, 2020
We are saddened to learn of the passing of Kamala. We send our deepest condolences to his friends and family. pic.twitter.com/7wGbDdc8NS— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) August 10, 2020
No!! Kamala has passed away. Very sad news as the man behind the larger than life Ugandan Giant persona was an incredible person who I had the privilege of working with and knowing a little. While his last few years were hard, he continued to forge his way. A man's man #RIPKamala— Court Bauer (@courtbauer) August 10, 2020
Another legend who deserved to be in @WWE Hall of Fame and ALIVE when that time came. 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. ~PHS#RIPKamala #Kamala #WWE #WWF pic.twitter.com/LnxIM0D59F— Elijah Burke (@DaBlackPope) August 10, 2020
Rest in Peace Kamala! Just as much as he was a scary in ring, he was a sweetheart in real life. He informed me I had knocked out a tooth on a clothesline. After I apologized profusely he informed me he was set to get it pulled anyway and I saved him $30 lol Rest easy my friend... pic.twitter.com/Sd2x1HKo0R— Brian Heffron aka The Blue Meanie (@BlueMeanieBWO) August 10, 2020