Leon White, known to wrestling fans all over the world as Big Van Vader or simply Vader is no more. He passed away on Monday of heart failure. Wrestling Legend Vader Dies At 63.
His son Jesse White, confirmed his death Wednesday on Twitter. He posted a picture of his father sitting next to a world heavyweight championship belt.
“It is with a heavy heart to inform everyone that my father, Leon White, passed away on Monday night (6/18/18) at approximately 7:25pm,” he wrote.
ESPN has reported that he had open-heart surgery in late March. WWE confirmed the news in their own post:
According to WWE, White has been a pro-wrestler since the mid-1980s. He joined the company in 1996. Vader started out in Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association. He first got into the spotlight when he joined New Japan Pro Wrestling and had a 5-star match with The Great Muta. And then reached superstardom in World Championship Wrestling becoming the World Champion for three times.
Vader joined wrestling after an injury forced him to retire from NFL. Besides his time inside the ring, he also made appearances in TV shows and films that include guest appearances on Boy Meets World.
In his second season in NFL, he played in Super Bowl XIV against the Pittsburg Steelers. But he was forced to retire after only a couple of seasons due to a ruptured patella.
Fans all over Twitter are paying their respect to The Mastodon alongside fellow wrestlers. Wrestling Legend Vader Dies At 63.