Former pro wrestler Big Van Vader dies at age 63

Leon White, the former professional wrestler known as Big Van Vader, has died at age 63, according to Fox News and

White began wrestling professionally in the American Wrestling Association territory in the mid-1980’s after an injury forced him to retire from the NFL. He assumed the persona of Big Van Vader while wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling, wearing an intimidating mask. He went on to become one of that promotion’s biggest stars.

Still wrestling under his new name, Vader joined World Championship Wrestling and engaged in memorable rivalries with luminaries like Sting and Ron Simmons. He won the WCW World Championship three times during his run there.

Vader joined the then-World Wrestling Federation in 1996, where he engaged in feuds with The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels.

He later earned supporting roles in films and TV shows like “Boy Meets World.”

White was 63.

His son, pro wrestler Jesse Wright, announced Vader’s passing on Twitter.

“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,” Vader’s Wright tweeted Wednesday morning.

Vader was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2016 and was only given two years to live, according to TMZ.

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