Former pro wrestling star Vader dead at 63June 20, 2018 7:28pm

Former WWE, WCW, All Japan Pro-Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling star Leon White, best known as Big Van Vader or Vader, died Monday night at the age of 63.

His son broke the news on Twitter on Wednesday.

Vader, whose career spanned almost 40 years, was a hulking super-heavyweight, known for his intimidating presence in the ring. He rose to stardom in the '80s while wrestling with New Japan Pro-Wrestling, where he was an IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Most notably, Vader was the first gaijin wrestler — non-Japanese — to hold the belt.

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Vader returned to the United States in the early '90s and became a WCW stalwart, where he captured the WCW United States Championship once and the WCW Heavyweight Championship three times.

After his stint with WCW, he trekked to WWF (now WWE) for a two-year run. He returned to TV for several one-off appearances after that.

In 2016, White was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Originally given a prognosis of two years to live, he continued to wrestle through 2017 and had heart surgery in March 2018.

Widely considered one of the greatest big men of all time, Vader is a member of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (class of 1996).

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