Leon White, who was better known by his wrestling name Big Van Vader, has died after years of health problems. He was 63. His family announced his 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. pic.twitter.com/hJYjumvxjH— Big Van Vader (@itsvadertime) June 20, 2018
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
Big Van Vader, who was 450 pounds and won 11 world championships, began his career as a football player. He was an All-American offensive lineman at the University of Colorado and spent time in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams, for whom he played center.
He entered pro wrestling in 1985 after a man at his gym suggested he look into it. Big Van Vader emerged as a star in numerous wrestling leagues: New Japan Pro Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, World Wrestling Federation, the WCW, and WWE. He won two Triple Crown Heavyweight Championships and the WCW U.S. Heavyweight title.
Big Van Vader was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in April 2016. In November of that year, he announced that he had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure.
He last wrestled in April 2017 in Japan. Big Van Vader also made occasional pop-culture appearances on programs such as Baywatch and Boy Meets World.