From Wrestling Legend to Double Amputee, Kamala Keeps Fighting

The day after they cut off his leg, James Harris’ screams echoed through the halls of Baptist Memorial Hospital. Doctors upped the dosage on his anesthetics, and Harris’ wife, Emmer, tried to calm him by clutching his hand. Nothing worked. Throughout the day and into the night, Harris wailed in agony as nurses stood at his bedside, pleading with him to stop.
“You can’t keep yelling like that,” one of them said. “There are other people in this hospital, too.” Harris’ voice quivered. “Those other people,” he sobbed, “aren’t hurting like me.” For anyone who followed his 30-year career as a professional wrestler, the sight of Harris so helpless and afraid would’ve been jarring.
Billed as a cannibalistic headhunter from the African jungles, Kamala “The Ugandan Giant” was one of the industry’s most terrifying heels during the 1980s and ‘90s.
Children often scattered or hid behind their parents as the 6’7”, 380-pound grappler—clutching a spear and wearing nothing but white face paint and a leopard-skin loincloth—sauntered barefoot down the aisles of legendary wrestling venues such as Madison Square Garden as tribal music boomed over the sound system.
Believed to be unable to speak English, Kamala (who was actually a truck driver from Mississippi) was usually flanked by a masked handler named “Kim Chee,” with whom he communicated through yelps and grunts. “He was the kind of guy you had nightmares about,” longtime wrestling commentator Jim Ross says. “But out of the ring, you couldn’t find a more beautiful person.” Wrestling matches may be scripted, but much of the physicality is real. Still, the sting that followed a chair shot from Hulk Hogan or a head-butt from Andre the Giant was nothing compared to the pain Harris felt as he lay in that hospital bed back in the fall of 2011, when diabetes forced doctors to amputate his left leg.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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