James Harris wrestled the world in the late 70s and early 80s, but he was really brought to fame by wrestling as a character known to the world as KAMALA.
Kamala, a name known globally by wrestling fans around the world in the 80s & 90s, wrestled in matches virtually everywhere. He was one of the top heels of his time, and one of the most feared men in wrestling history.
He struck fear into the hearts of wrestling fans and was believed to be a real threat by anyone who he came across, in and out of the ring. It is arguable that no other wrestler ever scared people like this man did. Fans would flock to the aisle to get a glimpse of practically every wrestler on the card, but when Kamala made his entrance, they ran up to the rafters!
WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER KAMALA LIKE?
Hailing from the deepest, darkest depths of Africa, Kamala was perhaps one of the most savage and terrifying monsters that the wrestling world has ever seen. No one could ever seem to predict what the unpredictable Ugandan Giant’s next move would be.
Before “Kamala Speaks,” not much was known about Kamala’s life before venturing into the squared circle, other than that he was a savage from the wild who never spoke. Nobody ever heard a word of English from him, let alone a real word at all, as this monster conversed only in loud yelps and grunts and truly looked like a beast. There were rumors early on that he may have once worked as a bodyguard for former evil Ugandan leader, Idi Amin.
With ritualistic face paint, and moons and stars painted on his chest, Kamala came to the ring wearing a ritual African tribal mask and carrying a spear. Barefoot and clad in an animal skin loin cloth, Kamala was a disturbing enough sight for opponents who got into their heads by making them think they were about to get into his belly. Often slapping his ample stomach. wasn’t bad enough …Kamala stood 6-foot-7 at 385-pounds!
WHERE DID KAMALA WRESTLE?
In short, Kamala popped up in virtually every major promotion in wrestling history; Memphis, Mid-South, World Class, Mexico, Japan, NWA, AWA, WWE, WCW, ECW, and TNA.
DEBUT – In 1982, Kamala first stormed onto the wrestling scene, introduced by JJ Dillon as a threat to Memphis hero, Jerry “The King” Lawler. Introduced to his first handler, he soon teamed with Jimmy Hart and continued to destroy his competition.
Next, he was brought into Mid-South and World Class Championship Wrestling by the devious General Skandor Akbar. With his handler “Friday” by his side barely controlling things, Kamala terrorized numerous opponents including Hacksaw Jim Duggan, the world famous Von Erich brothers, Michael Hayes and more, before leaving for WWE. Before he did so, he did the unthinkable… He body-slammed the 7 foot Andre The Giant!
WWE WRESTLING – Still under the tutelage of Friday, Kamala was picked up by “The Fashion Plate” Classy Freddie Blassie in 1984. He ate a live chicken on TNT Wrestling in his debut and went right after the biggest man he could, Andre the Giant. Their battle heated and resulted in a steel cage match that became the top highlighted clips for the intro of most early WWF Home Videos for years to come.
ON THE ROAD – NWA & AWA – Kamala went into wrestling for the NWA and AWA, There he battled top names like Sgt. Slaughter, Magnum TA, and many other top names in wrestling. In Japan, Kamala had a huge feud with The Giant Baba, and also issues backstage with another giant, Abdullah The Butcher.
WWE Round 2 – After a two year hiatus, Kamala was brought back to The WWE by Curtis Iaukea and his handler. Kamala instantly became one of the most feared and hated Superstars WWE had ever seen taking Hulkamania to the limit. Later, after falling into the hands of the devious Mr. Fuji, Kamala joined former World Tag Team Champion, Sika the Wild Samoan, to create a devestating tag team of epic proportions. The savage pair complemented each other well, but were uncontrollable, even by handler Kim Chee. Kamala left WWE in 1988.
WWE Round 3 – In 1992, Kamala was returned to the WWE by Harvey Wippleman for a battle with The Ultimate Warrior, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and even The Undertaker. After losing the first-ever Coffin Match to The Deadman at Survivor Series 1992, Kamala became the subject of much abuse from his handler, Kim Chee.
Enter Reverend Slick. The good “Doctor of Style” taught Kamala that he was, in fact, not a savage beast, but a man. Eventually, his positive message got through. Fans instantly flocked to the big guy, as Slick tried to teach him how to be civilized.
It’s also worth noting that while in the WWE, Kamala wrestled virtually every big name they had, including Shawn Michaels, Yokozuna, Randy Savage and Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
WCW – In 1995, Kamala resurfaced in WCW but had fallen back to his evil ways. This time as part of Kevin Sullivan’s Dungeon of Doom, Kamala was brought in to destroy The Immortal Hulk Hogan.
After WCW, Kamala continued to wrestle around the world including tours in most major countries where professional wrestling was, until he was no longer, due to complications with diabetes claiming both of his legs around 2010.