Leon White, a former National Football League player who reached fame as professional wrestler Big Van Vader, has died, according to multiple reports.
Leon White, who was famous for performing as the red-masked wrestler, died on Monday night.
Jesse noted White was diagnosed with a severe bout of pneumonia about a month before his heart gave out on Monday. He was known for his large size and his trademark mask. He made a name for himself competing in New Japan Pro Wrestling before moving onto World Championship Wrestling where he was featured as one of the promotion's biggest stars.
The Mastodon even had a match as recently as 2016 against Will Ospreay for Revolution Pro Wrestling in the United Kingdom.
His success in the ring with NJPW gained him World Championship Wrestling attention, which inevitably brought the California native some of his most famous matches against fighters including Sting and Ron Simmons. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams and played center for the team in the 1979 Super Bowl and then had to retire due to a ruptured patella.
Vader had been dealing with heart issues over the last few years, and he underwent open heart surgery twice in 2018.
D-von Dudley (@TestifyDVon)Rest in Power Big man.
Vader took exception to Bassam Al Othman's line of questioning, including the accusation that "wrestling is fake".
In April of a year ago, Vader wrestled at an event in Japan where fans saw him collapse and pass out in the middle of the ring after the match. My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and fans.
He became the WCW heavyweight champ three times over.
While White's WWE run was not as successful, he challenged Shawn Michaels for the WWE title at Summerslam that year, and tagged with his former foe Mick Foley at Wrestlemania 13.