WWE, Mississippi native wrestling megastar James 'Kamala' Harris dies at …

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Former World Wrestling Federation wrestler Kamala (James Harris)

James Harris, a Mississippi-born sharecropper who gained international fame as “Kamala the Ugandan Giant,” a massive professional wrestler who terrorized opponents with his trademark “splash,” has died.

World Wrestling Entertainment confirmed his death in a statement Sunday.

About Mississippi
Mississippi ( (listen)) is a state located in the Deep South region of the United States. Mississippi is the 32nd largest and 34th-most populous of the 50 U.S. states. Mississippi is bordered to the north by Tennessee, to the east by Alabama, to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the southwest by Louisiana, and to the northwest by Arkansas. Mississippi’s western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson is both the state’s capital and largest city. Greater Jackson, with an estimated population of 580,166 in 2018, is the most populous metropolitan area in Mississippi and the 95th-most populous in the United States.
On December 10, 1817, Mississippi became the 20th state admitted to the Union. By 1860, Mississippi was the nation’s top cotton producing state and enslaved persons accounted for 55% of the state population. Mississippi declared its secession from the Union on March 23, 1861, and was one of the seven original Confederate States. Following the Civil War, it was restored to the Union on February 23, 1870.Until the Great Migration of the 1930s, African Americans were a majority of Mississippi’s population. Mississippi was the site of many prominent events during the American Civil Rights movement, including the 1962 Ole Miss riots, the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers, and the 1964 Freedom Summer murders. Mississippi frequently ranks low among states in measures of health, education, and development, and high in measures of poverty. In 2010, 37.3% of Mississippi’s population was African American, the highest percentage for any state.
Mississippi is almost entirely within the Gulf coastal plain, and generally consists of lowland plains and low hills. The northwest remainder of the state consists of the Mississippi Delta, a section of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Mississippi’s highest point is Woodall Mountain at 807 feet (246 m) above sea level adjacent to the Cumberland Plateau; the lowest is the Gulf of Mexico. Mississippi has a humid subtropical climate classification.

WWE, Mississippi native wrestling star James 'Kamala' Harris dies at …

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Kenny Casanova, who co-wrote Harris’ autobiography, wrote on social media that Harris died from COVID-19. He was 70.

In recent years, Harris had suffered from many health ailments, including having both legs amputated because of diabetes.

WWE, Mississippi native wrestling star James 'Kamala' Harris dies at …

Born in Senatobia, Mississippi, the nearly 400-pound (181-kilogram) Harris began his wrestling career as Sugar Bear Harris and under other names but wasn’t considered useful in the ring. It wasn’t until a promoter suggested the Kamala gimmick loosely based on Ugandan dictator Idi Amin that his career took a turn.

Walking into the ring with body and face paint and a spear, Kamala would headline cards against babyface wrestlers like the Junkyard Dog, Andre the Giant, and Hacksaw Butch Reed in Mid-South Wrestling’s territory of Louisiana and Texas. He was managed by Skandor Akbar and a masked man named Friday, who tried to control the wrestler’s behavior.

Kamala would battle the popular Junkyard Dog, a former college football player named Sylvester Ritter, to packed crowds and steps away from where President John F. Kennedy gave his last speech at the Sam Houston Coliseum before the president’s assassination in Dallas.

Harris would later join the WWE and face Hulk Hogan, Jake “The Snake” Robert and the Undertaker.

Critics charged that the character of Kamala was based on racial stereotypes as wrestling announcers often used such terms as “savage” and “beast.”

In interviews later in life, Harris said he found the gimmick fun and meant no harm. But he did often tell interviewers he was underpaid compared to other wrestlers at the time and treated poorly.