Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Leon White, aka Vader (1955-2018)

He hasn't yet been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, but maybe he will be next year, posthumously.

In the course of his wrestling career, Leon White, otherwise known as Vader, or, Big Van Vader, won 3 WCW World titles, 3 IWGP titles in Japan, and 3 Catch Wrestling Association titles in Austria. Not bad for a former Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman whose NFL career was cut short due to injuries in the 80's. White transitioned into wrestling, first with the AWA, which gave him the nicknames "Baby Bull" and "Bull Power", then, to Japan, where his Big Van Vader persona emerged.

As Vader, White returned to the US in 1990, signing with World Championship Wrestling, then aligned with the National Wrestling Alliance. On their syndicated programming, Vader showcased his incredible agility for a man listed at over 400 pounds (announcer Tony Schiavone said it was "well over 300 pounds). In this clip, a handicap squash, you couldn't tell that Vader was meant to be a heel, or rulebreaker......

The helmet and cowled mask gave way to a new mask not long after.

Vader came to the then-World Wrestling Federation later in the 90's, and that led to a recurring gig on ABC's Boy Meets World. In the context of the series, Vader was the father of one of the school bullies, played by Ethan Suplee.

Rest in peace.

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