Mark for War: Uganda Calling
Post-career retrospective interviews are in vogue. Obviously, CM Punk’s interview with Colt Cabana tore through the wrestling world this week. I’ll be addressing said interview next week, after I take a listen to part two.
Until then, I wanted to address an interview that has also been sweeping through the wrestling world. One that wore heavily on me after I watched it.
James Harris, better known as WWE Legend Kamala The Ugandan Giant, has fallen on hard times over the last few years. He has lost both of his legs below the knee to diabetes. He is also broke.
I loved Kamala growing up. I’m assuming many of you who appreciate a great monster of a heel did as well. Even if you didn’t love Kamala, there is something we all need to give him props for: he has the rarest and most coveted wrestling action figure of all time! The Hasbro Kamala figure (with the moon on his stomach).
Kamala has a book coming out in the near future, which I’m sure will be an easy, ghostwriter-infused read. I can tell that Kamala is a sweet man. He seems to be a gentle giant with great outlook on life pos-limb loss, which is unbelievably commendable. I must admit, though, that a few things Kamala has done over the years have bummed me out.
First off, as far as the limb loss goes, the revelation I find most disturbing is that Kamala’s doctor told him he had to go on dialysis or he’d start losing limbs. Like many hardheaded men from the old school, he was above a modern medical opinion and rolled the dice. And what the doctor said would happen, happened. It’s important to realize that a lot of ex-wrestlers throw caution at the wayside when it comes to their health once their career ends. Health insurance and medical bills are expensive. This is no excuse though, nor does it make it okay once they’re a bit by it.
Years ago, this song, written and performed by Kamala, came across my desk (thanks to my friend, Ralph):
This video kind of shed some light on the underlying creepiness of Kamala. Kamala is pretty homophobic. In this video, he, for whatever reason, claims the Brooklyn Brawler had sex with well-known homosexual agent Pat Paterson. I wasn’t surprised to hear that Kamala’s book apparently will reveal several homosexual relationships between wrestlers during the 80s and 90s. Why are these issues consuming Kamala’s life so much? They not only seem irrelevant, but they seem like they’re used to push Kamala’s personal agenda.
Another angle that will be played up in his biography is the disparagement in pay in the wrestling world. Kamala for years has complained about how little he was paid while wrestling in the WWE, compared to the rest of the superstars. His most outlandish claim (whether true or false) was that at Summerslam 1992 ,he received $13,000 for his match with The Undertaker, while ‘Taker received $500,000. Here’s a newsflash for everyone, including Kamala: wrestling payouts are, and always has been, unfair. The 80s were filled with franchise players who got paid arguably more than the rest of the card put together (Hogan, Warrior, Flair) because frankly, without them, there wouldn’t be a show. But yeah, if the gap between Kamala’s paycheck and The Undertaker’s paycheck was really so vast, that is a huge problem.
What was interesting to hear is that Kamala, in order to essentially support himself, carves and sells wooden chairs online. God, can you imagine if he carved and sold those wooden masks he used to wear to the ring? That would rule.
All kidding aside, all the best to Kamala. He’s an absolute wrestling legend. A total unhinged wild man who was a great heel for decades. I feel unbelievably sorry for him, and wish 2014 brought better news from him than this.
Match of the Week: Kamala vs. The Undertaker, Coffin Match, Survivor Series, November 25, 1992, Cleveland, Ohio
What’s awesome about this match was that it concluded a really amazing program between Kamala and The Undertaker that was based around Kamala being scared of The Undertaker’s urn and supernatural aura. Kamala, up to this point, was a complete savage that wasn’t scared of anything. Very cool to see him cower. This feud also really was the blue print for many other ‘Taker vs. Random Big Dude/Creep matches from basically 1992 on. How many of those feuds ended in a casket match? Half? Also important to reference is Kamala’s unbelievable quickness in the ring for such a big man. Guys like him and Bam Bam Bigelow really turned what being a big man in the 80s was on its head. WWF Hall of Famer Yokozuna followed Kamala’s quick big man ways. The late, great Umaga was basically a 2000’s carbon copy of Kamala. A very influential giant.