Former WWE Wrestler Big Van Vader Says He Has ‘Less Than 2 Years to Live’

Joe Otterson
The Wrap
Former WWE Wrestler Big Van Vader Says He Has ‘Less Than 2 Years to Live’

Former WWE pro wrestler Big Van Vader announced that he has been given less than two years to live.

Vader, whose real name is Leon White, broke the news to fans on his official Twitter account late Monday night. “Told by 2 heart Drs at this time that my heart is wore out from football & wrestling I have 2 yrs to live , conjestive hesrt [sic] failure reality,” he wrote.

Before breaking into pro wrestling, White was a football standout. He played center on his high school team and was recruited by a number of top colleges, eventually joining the squad at the University of Colorado. He was drafted in 1978 to play offensive line for the Los Angeles Rams.

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Following a number of injuries, White left football. He was then encouraged to look into wrestling as a possible alternative career. He rose to international fame in All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW), where he memorably feuded with Stan Hansen. During one infamous match, Hansen knocked White’s eye loose from its socket.

He eventually returned to the U.S., joining World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He won the organization’s World Heavyweight Championship multiple times, and feuded with top stars like Sting and Cactus Jack.

White joined WWE, then WWF, in 1996. He fought for the Heavyweight Championship and Tag Team Championship, but was unsuccessful in obtaining either. Since then, White has worked for various organizations around the world, including a return to AJPW and TNA. He also briefly returned to WWE in 2005.

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White was billed at a staggering 6’5”, 450 pounds. His ability to perform moves like the moonsault and his trademark Vader Bomb earned him the reputation as one of the most agile super heavyweights in wrestling history.


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