Wrestling legend Vader dies at 63
MANILA, Philippines – Wrestling legend and multiple-time world champion Vader died on Monday, June 18. He was 63 years old.
One of his children posted on Wednesday, June 20, through Vader's Twitter account that the massive yet agile wrestler passed away on Monday at around 7:25 pm.
"Around a month ago my father was diagnosed with a severe case of pneumonia. He fought extremely hard and clinically was making progress. Unfortunately, on Monday night his heart had enough and it was his time," his child said in another tweet.
Vader just had a successful open-heart surgery in March 2018, as reported by his son Jesse on Vader's Twitter.
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) extended its condolences to White's family and friends on Wednesday.
Born Leon Allen White on May 14, 1955, Vader or Big Van Vader bulldozed through competition in the football field, then in the wrestling ring in Japan, Germany, and the United States, winning world titles and numerous accolades along the way.
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. pic.twitter.com/dP4CNaMuXa— Big Van Vader (@itsvadertime) June 20, 2018
Before wrestling, White played football for the University of Colorado then was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the National Football League (NFL) in 1978.
He then made his wrestling debut in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in 1985, and later flew to Japan to compete in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), where he was given the name Big Van Vader.
In 1989, he won his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship in an 8-man tournament for the vacant title. He was the first foreigner to win the championship. He won the title two more times.
He then shot into fame in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), where he had classic matches with Sting, Ron Simmons, Cactus Jack (also known as Mick Foley), Ric Flair, and Hulk Hogan. Foley's right ear was even torn off during a match with Vader in Germany in 1994.
In WCW, he won the World Heavyweight Championship thrice and the United States Championship once.
Vader then had a stint in the World Wrestling Federation or WWF (now WWE), becoming part of the stable of wrestling manager Jim Cornette.
Even though he was in the WWF for just a short time, Vader had memorable matches against Shawn Michaels, Yokozuna, The Undertaker, and Kane. He also infamously attacked then-WWE President Gorilla Monsoon in an episode of RAW in 1996.
After his WWE run, he made appearances in many Japanese promotions, as well as in the US independent scene.
He also made one-off returns to WWE in 2005, 2012, and 2016, when he inducted his longtime rival Stan Hansen into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Vader has a son who is also a wrestler, going by the name Jake Carter. – Rappler.com