Nick Name: Vader
Birthday: May 14, 1955
Died At Age: 63
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Leon Allen White
Born Country: United States
Born in: Lynwood, California, United States
Famous as: Professional Wrestler
Height: 6'5" (196 cm), 6'5" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Grace Connelly (1979–2007)
children: Jake Carter
Died on: June 18, 2018
Cause of Death: Pneumonia
Notable Alumni: The University Of Oklahoma, University Of Colorado Boulder
U.S. State: California
education: The University of Oklahoma, University of Colorado Boulder, Bell High School
Leon Allen White, popularly known by his ring name Big Van Vader, was a well-known American professional wrestler, occasional actor as well as a football player. Considered as one of the best super-heavyweight pro wrestlers of all time, he had performed for several promotions throughout his career, including New Japan Pro-Wrestling, the World Wrestling Federation, and World Championship Wrestling. Throughout his career, he was also known for his aerial maneuvers. Readers of `Wrestling Observer Newsletter`, had voted his diving moonsault as the `Best Wrestling Maneuver` in 1993. He won several championships during his career, which include the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, and also the CWA World Heavyweight Championship. In 1996, he was also inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. He also appeared in a few movies. He died of pneumonia in 2018.
Childhood & Early Life
Big Van Vader was born as Leon Allen White, on 14th May 1955, in Lynwood, California in the US. His father was an US Marine.
From an early age, Big Van Vader was interested in football. While he was in high school, he used to play as an All American Offensive Lineman. He studied at the University of Colorado, and earned a degree in Business Administration. During this time, he also played college football.
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Big Van Vader began his professional wrestling career for American Wrestling Association and Catch Wrestling Association. He also signed with All Japan Pro Wrestling, but shortly afterwards he was traded to New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1987. He soon took on the ring name Big Van Vader, and also started wearing a black mask. His character was based on a character of Japanese folklore of the same name.
He took part in an eight-man tournament and won against Shinya Hashimoto at Battle Satellite in Tokyo Dome, after which he was named as the new IWGP Heavyweight Championship, becoming the first non-Japanese wrestler to hold the title. However, he lost the title after a month, after being beaten by Salman Hashimikov. Vader soon gained the attention of the World Championship Wrestling.
Vader soon signed with World Championship Wrestling (WCW), in 1990, and his first match was in July, at The Great American Bash, where he defeated Tom Zenk in around two minutes. He also took part in WrestleWar and Halloween Havoc.
He fought Steve Borden known as Sting for the World Heavyweight Championship, in April 1992, but got disqualified. Sting`s ribs were cracked and he also suffered a ruptured spleen. They had a rematch in July, at the Great American Bash, at which Sting was defeated, and Vader became the new WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
However, due to a knee injury, he lost the title after a match with Ron Simmons. Vader went for a knee surgery, and returned at Halloween Havoc. He faced Sting in the finals of the King of Cable tournament, where he was defeated by Sting. After two days, he faced and defeated Ron Simmons, and regained the World Heavyweight Championship. He lost it to Sting in March 1993, but was able to regain it after six days.
Vader next faced Cactus Jack, and was defeated. However, Jack got his nose broken so badly that it required him 27 stitches. After some time, he faced Sting for the vacant International World Heavyweight Championship. However, he was defeated. Later at Clash of the Champions XXIX, he fought and defeated Dustin Rhodes.
This gave him the opportunity to fight Jim Duggan, the United States Heavyweight Champion. Duggan was defeated, making Vader the next champion. He next faced Hulk Hogan, who was holding the World Heavyweight Championship, but failed to beat him.
Vader eventually had to relinquish his championship due to disqualifications. Vader again got a chance to fight Hogan again for the World Heavyweight Championship, The match took place at Bash at the Beach in a Steel Cage match, but he lost when Hogan managed to escape from the cage. He was eventually fired from WCW after he got involved in a brawl with Paul Orndorff, in a locker room.
In 1996, he signed with World Wrestling Federation. During this time, he fought the champion Shawn Michaels, at SummerSlam in 1996. He also faced The Undertaker in the Royal Rumble. He next returned to the All Japan Pro Wrestling, from where he worked from 1998 to 2001. Later he chose to work in independent circuit. However, in later years, he also played for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, and WWE.
Big Van Vader has also appeared in `Fist of the North Star`, an action martial-arts film where he played the supporting role of Goliath. He appeared in two other films `Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows` (1998) and `The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling`, (1999), as himself.
He has also appeared in the TV shows `Boy Meets World`, in 1995 and 1996, and `Baywatch` in 1996.
Family & Personal Life
Big Van Vader’s wife divorced him in 2007, mostly due to his alcohol abuse. He had a son Jesse White who was born in 1986. He followed his father`s footsteps to become a football player and wrestler.
Big Van Vader passed away on June 18, 2018, after being hospitalized for pneumonia.