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R.I.P. Kamala (James Harris)

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I'm gutted by this news. :( He was a childhood favorite.

Looks like it was Covid-related. :o 

From Crimson Mask on the WrestlingClassics forum: "Word has come down from JD McKay via Porkchop Cash via King Cobra. After the diabetes and all it was the Covid that got him. Went in the hospital 3 days ago and never came out."

Steel Cage Match: Kamala vs. Andre the Giant - October 21, 1984 (Maple Leaf Gardens)

Kamala's final WWE match: Kamala vs. Umaga - June 26th, 2006 (WWE Raw)

UPDATE: Okay, folks, I found some real hidden gems.

Kamala vs. ROH World Champion Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) - September 30, 2006 (Liberty States Wrestling)

This is a ton of fun. Bryan sells his ass off for the big man, but Kamala also sells and gives the young kid the shine when appropriate. This turns into a wild brawl by the end. I wish the video and sound quality were better, but it's watchable even on TV.

Kamala Singing: Full Album - 45 minutes

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James Harris suffered numerous chronic health insults in his later years, including amputations on both legs related to diabetes. It's good that he's released from that. COVID is sadly brutal on the chronically ill.

He developed the Kamala character with Lawler and Jarrett when he arrived in Memphis in 1982, including the "steamy jungle" vignette that followed him around the country. Andre/Kamala drew in multiple territories, including a Mid-South run that culminated in a 21,000 show at the Superdome in April '83, with Freebirds/Von Erichs and JYD/Olympia. Kamala worked around the country with Hogan in 1986-87, and of course his 1992 feud with Undertaker debuted the casket match, at least in the WWF. He was also in one of the pinnacles of wrestling schlock, the Dungeon of Doom in 1995 WCW.

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Cards and flower and funeral donation info from Kamala's co-author Kenny Casanova (also added to the OP):

BELOW IS INFO FOR CARDS & THE FAMILY PAYPAL IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP...
CARDS: Emmer & James Harris
3400 Lyles Road
Senatobia MS 38668
United States
PAYPAL: (for flowers or help with funeral, as they had financial problems in recent years due to medical issues) [email protected]

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I  am adding on to Kamala origin .  James Harris worked as Bear Harris for  years. He was from Holly Springs , MS ( 60 miles south of Memphis ). , however he could not  get a spot in Memphis.

 The story is that Harris came back from an overseas tour and his gear was lost. Harris had worked with the Troy Graham a.k.a. the Dream Machine in an outlaw Jackson , MS  promotion. Graham  made gear . So Harris knew that Graham would be at the MSC  on Monday , since the Dream Machine had job with Jarrett . Lawler and Jarrett saw Harris at the door. They ask him if he wanted a job. Of course Harris said yes. The two Jerrys had Harris meet them at Jarrett 's Nashville home. They shot the Kamala video in Jarrett's backyard 

 The Kamala character was a creation of Lawler. Jarrett  gave Harris a limited move set to help established  Kamala  as an unstoppable savage. That worked out because Harris was a high spot brawler.

Memphis was running an angle where J.J. Dillion had invaded Memphis  . J.J. was full time in Florida  , so he would send in promo every week. J.J. would come in only for the bigger shows . Dillion was the King of Florida, now he was also going to take over Memphis, Nashville , Louisville , etc . Dillion sent Kamala to  Memphis and he destroyed Lawler his first week in the territory . Lawler could not beat Kamala. Then Kamala went thur the likes of Bill Dundee, Terry Taylor , Steve Keirn and Stan Lane.. In the end Lawler teamed up with his arch enemy , Jimmy Hart , to defeat  Kamala and send Dillion back to Tampa .

From there Kamala went to Mid-South , World Class , Crockett , WWF , Puerto Rico , WCW and countless of other smaller promotion. Kamala  was a bankable gimmick for Harris for many years . Sometimes I guess you have to be at the right place at the right time and everything falls into place .  James Harris had a great career and entertain countless fans. Rest in Peace , Mister Harris . 

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My favorite Kamala trivia was that the dude apparently had a great singing voice and I think he released a few albums

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His book is one of my favorite wrestling books that I've had the pleasure of reading. The man definitely had a rough road. They all suck, but this one hurts a little more for me. Always loved Kamala. Rest in Peace Big Man.

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Yeah, he probably was a good guy and he had talked in lenght about how he always got stiffed on paychecks (including as late as 1995 in WCW while other Dungeon of Doom goons were getting more money... I wonder why...), but damn that gimmick was a complete embarrassment (it wasn't any less racist than Saba Simba). It's sad his health had deteriorated so much in later years.

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One thing I always remember about Kamala is a mate of my friend's older brother remarking, "Ugandan Giant? More like a cabby driver from Detroit." Close. More like a truck driver from Minnesota. 

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I listened to him do an interview on The Dan Le Batard show about a year and it was sooo sad. They wanted him on there because they thought he would be funny and tell funny stories but instead they got a real sad interview with a legend. It's very sad but all that being said. I hope he finally found his peace cause listening to him speak you could easily tell that he did not live a happy life.

RIP

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2 hours ago, El-P said:

(...) and he had talked in lenght about how he always got stiffed on paychecks (including as late as 1995 in WCW while other Dungeon of Doom goons were getting more money... I wonder why...), (...)

At the same time, he was also known as one of the most unreliable people in wrestling in 1980ies w.r.t. no shows, so there is another side to this as well. Who knows what is true, what is exaggerated and what is false (on both sides, stiffing vs. no shows).

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Very sad news. I watched Survivor Series 1992 a few months back and I enjoyed his antics with Undertaker. Their casket match isn't a workrate classic by any means, but Kamala's reactions to Undertaker's spooky stuff turned a crap match into campy fun. 

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That's awful, awful news. I really enjoyed how he managed to turn an awful, awful gimmick into something entertaining just by being really damn good. Gave us so many fun moments.

R.I.P.

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WWE put up a collection of Kamala matches from various places he worked at, and it's actually a pretty good snapshot of his career. 

I always did wonder who was under the Friday mask in the different places he worked. I know "Kimchee" was Steve Lombardi, but I never found out who the others were. I assume it was just some random jobber from each area under the mask, but Friday was such a part of the act I always wondered if it was the same guy going from place to place.

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10 minutes ago, sek69 said:

WWE put up a collection of Kamala matches from various places he worked at, and it's actually a pretty good snapshot of his career. 

I always did wonder who was under the Friday mask in the different places he worked. I know "Kimchee" was Steve Lombardi, but I never found out who the others were. I assume it was just some random jobber from each area under the mask, but Friday was such a part of the act I always wondered if it was the same guy going from place to place.

Buddy Wayne was the original Friday and then retired wrestler Frank Dalton took over, but not sure at which point 

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Okay, folks, I found some real hidden gems that I'll add to the OP after this.

Kamala vs. ROH World Champion Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) - September 30, 2006 (Liberty States Wrestling)

This is a ton of fun. Bryan sells his ass off for the big man, but Kamala also sells and gives the young kid the shine when appropriate. This turns into a wild brawl by the end. I wish the video and sound quality were better, but it's watchable even on TV.

Kamala Singing: Full Album - 45 minutes

 

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Watched a bunch of Kamala yesterday. The Hogan series (especially the Boston match with all the blood) is a great hidden gem in 80's WWF. The Cage Match with Andre from Toronto is right up there. But what I really enjoy are the brutal mauling of guys like Invader 1 and Brody, where Kamala truly feels like a vicious savage out for blood. There's also the great No DQ match against Lawler that hardly anyone has seen or talks about since it's buried on a Rick Crane comp (didn't make it onto Will's Lawler comp). I'm a bit hesitant to dive into the comedy stuff, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pumped to dust off Yoko-Kamala later. 

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That tweet is amazingly on brand for Lenny Dykstra. I would have honestly been a little disappointed if he didn't think it was real.

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55 minutes ago, Ricky Jackson said:

In tribute, Biden picked Kamala Harris as his running mate 

I guarantee you someone in wrestling will make a "Kamala Harris as Kamala the wrestler" joke then immediately take offense at how negatively it's received. 

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5 hours ago, sek69 said:

That tweet is amazingly on brand for Lenny Dykstra. I would have honestly been a little disappointed if he didn't think it was real.

Lenny is awesome. They did a two parter on him on the Crime In Sports podcast, (which I highly recommend. It's hilarious ) And he contacted them and was like, "Yep. I did all that." And he's been a guest on the show since. 

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