Vader, WWE and WCW Legend, Dies at 63

Super heavyweight’s heart gave out Monday night after month-long battle with pneumonia, son says

Last Updated: June 20, 2018 @ 9:06 AM

WWE and WCW legend Vader — also known to audiences as Big Van Vader — died Monday after a battle with pneumonia.

The professional wrestler, whose real name was Leon White, was 63.

White’s son posted the following to his father’s Twitter account on Wednesday:

Vader also had a memorable three-episode arc on the ’90s sitcom “Boy Meets World,” when White played Frankie Stecchino Sr., the father of a school bully played by Ethan Suplee.

Tributes from current and past WWE Superstars have been rolling in since White’s son broke the news on Wednesday morning.

“WWE extends its condolences to White’s family, friends and fans,” a spokesman for WWE wrote in a statement.

White began his sports entertainment career in the mid-1980s after retiring from the NFL due to injury, per WWE’s bio, which the company rep shared with TheWrap.

He rose to national prominence in Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association before joining New Japan Pro Wrestling as the masked Big Van Vader. He went on to become one of the promotion’s biggest stars and most feared competitors.

Vader then transitioned to World Championship Wrestling, where he would make the biggest mark of his career. He engaged in memorable rivalries with the likes of Sting and Ron Simmons, becoming a dominant, three-time WCW World Champion in the process. In 1996, Vader joined the WWE roster.

The six-foot-four-inch, 450-pound White, who divorced wife Grace Connelly in 2007, leaves behind two children.