BleacherReport.com has published a story looking at the rise and fall of "The Ugandan Giant" Kamala, who now lives his life as a double-amputee. In the article, the former WWE Superstar discusses his present circumstances and looks back at his lengthy wrestling career.
On November 7, 2011, Kamala, who's real name is James Harris, had his leg amputated below the knee due to complications of high blood pressure and diabetes. His right leg was amputated the following spring. This was as a result of Harris going nearly 20 years without paying attention to his health.
Harris had been urged by his physicians to begin dialysis treatment after being diagnosed with diabetes in 1992. He ignored their advice, choosing instead to carry on with his life as if the disease wasn't present within him. Poor eating habits pushed his weight past 400-pounds in 2002; a simple walk from the parking lot to his physician's office caused him to become short of breath.
"'If you don't go on dialysis soon, you're going to start losing body parts,'" the doctor told Harris.
"I wish I would've listened," Harris now says.
A few days after noticing fluid leaking from his foot in September 2011, Harris went to a doctor and had three of his toes removed. Within a month of the surgery, Harris returned to the hospital to have his entire foot amputated. The recovery process was so painful that a few days later, he asked the doctor to remove the rest of his leg above the knee.
The pain was excruciating for Harris as screams echoed through the halls of Baptist Memorial Hospital the day after surgery. His dosage of anesthetics increased, and Harris' wife, Emmer, tried to calm him down by clutching his hand. It did not work as Harris wailed in agony throughout the day while nurses plead with him to stop.
Harris endured the same ordeal the following spring by losing his right leg.
"I could hardly stomach it," he says.
Medicaid paid for a $6,000 pair of prosthetic legs for Harris, but because of his great size, doctors struggled to attach them to his stumps. Rather than cling to false hope of walking again, Harris adjusted to life as a double-amputee.
"I didn't even want to look down at first," says Harris, who found the situation difficult to accept. "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.
"I still have crying spells, but they're not as bad as they used to be."
Harris has never been shy about expressing his displeasure about how he was treated in WWE, and does so again in this article. However, he now admits he was partly to blame.
Harris says his biggest mistake was leaving WWE without warning in 1987 due to unhappiness with pay, after feuding with Hulk Hogan and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. He now feels he should've handled things differently.
"I can understand now why Vince [McMahon] would've been upset," he says.
Harris returned to the company in 1992, but it was still a struggle for him financially. Since WWE makes most performers pay their own hotel and rental car fees, there were nights when Harris would sleep in his vehicle so he wouldn't have to pay for a room. He was released in July 1993, two weeks after his sister and his niece were murdered by his sister's husband.
Asked to comment on its relationship with Harris, WWE released this statement:
"During his time at WWE and the other organizations he performed for, Jim Harris's larger-than-life character, Kamala, resonated with fans around the world. Jim had several stints with WWE, where he was given every opportunity to succeed, often being paired with such legends as Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker.
"Ultimately, Jim was the one who made the decisions to leave WWE. WWE appreciates the contributions he made to our organization, and we send him our best wishes as he continues to fight health challenges."
Harris hopes his relationship with WWE going forward is a positive one.
"A lot of the things I've said about the WWE...I don't mean them," Harris says. "I'm proud to say I worked there. I just always hoped that one day Vince would accept me like he did some of the other wrestlers.
"I wish things would've been better."
Much more is contained in the article, with Harris discussing his day-to-day life in Senatobia, Mississippi, his early life, the creation of Kamala, wrestling the likes of Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan, the WWE Hall of Fame, and his outlook on life now that he is no longer on top. Jim Ross, Jerry "The King" Lawler, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, Mick Foley and Koko B. Ware were also interviewed for the piece.
Source: Bleacher Report