WWE Legend Kamala Dies at Age 70

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 10, 2020

Credit: WWE.com

Former WWE star Kamala has died at age 70, WWE announced Sunday.

Kamala, whose real name is James Harris, had significant health issues in recent years resulting from his diabetes diagnosis.

Doctors diagnosed him with the disease in 1992, and Jason King, formerly of Bleacher Report, detailed how Harris didn't undergo dialysis treatment until 2011, by which time doctors had removed three of his toes.

Doctors amputated Harris' left foot that year and then the rest of his leg up to his knee after the recovery process was too painful. Shortly thereafter, Harris lost his right leg up to the knee.

"I didn't even want to look down at first," Harris said to King. "But when I came home (from the hospital), I would look down, and I'd cry a little. I'd think, 'I'm not normal, am I? I'm not normal anymore. People are going to treat me like I'm not normal.' But I made it through. I made it through."

Harris' stepdaughter posted on Facebook in November 2017 that Harris was on life support after undergoing emergency surgery.

Kamala is best known for wrestling with the World Wrestling Federation during the mid-1980s and then throughout 1992 and 1993. He was a big enough star in the '80s that he feuded with Hulk Hogan and Jake Roberts. He faced Hogan three times for the WWF Championship from December 1986 through January 1987.

WWE Hall of Famer Koko B. Ware, who was friends with Harris, discussed with King why Kamala was such an attractive opponent for WWE's top babyfaces:

"Hulk Hogan wrestled Kamala for six months because Hulk Hogan doesn't like to get hurt. 'Be easy on me and we'll rock and roll all night. But if you hurt me, if you hit me a little too hard...I don't want to draw money like that.' Hogan wanted the easy money, and wrestling Kamala was like wrestling a baby. He'd give you those chops or give you that splash and you wouldn't even feel it. Hogan was like, 'Man, I want you every night, brother.'"

Kamala abruptly left WWE in 1987 over a pay dispute but returned for a memorable feud with The Undertaker in 1992. The two wrestled at SummerSlam 1992 and again at Survivor Series 1992, the latter of which featured the first casket match WWE showed to a national audience.

Upon leaving WWE again in 1993, Kamala spent a brief spell with WCW in 1995. He had two matches with the company, defeating Hacksaw Jim Duggan at Bash at the Beach 1995 and teaming with The Dungeon of Doom to lose WarGames at Fall Brawl 1995.

Kamala continued wrestling after his time in WCW concluded, and his last match was in August 2010, according to the Internet Wrestling Database.