Leon White, also known as Big Van Vader in WCW and Vader in WWE, has faced a scary health situation in Tokyo. The 61-year-old professional wrestling legend reportedly collapsed at a show commemorating the 45th anniversary of Japanese icon Tatsumi Fujinami’s in-ring debut.
Vader, who had opened up about his health problems earlier had continued to wrestle on occasion. He was doing the same on Thursday night against Japanese legend Riki Chosu. Unfortunately, he collapsed but didn’t lose consciousness afterwards, according to the first-hand account of a Reddit user with the handle kamatacci.
“(Keiji) Muto and Akira (Maeda) were giving him water and trying to keep him cool. He eventually rolled out and walked to the back with minimal help, but he did somewhat stumble there too. Once in the match after he and Riki were exchanging blows, he very much legit fell to one knee,” kamatacci mention, as reported by Inquisitr.
Vader actively wrestling despite health issues
Vader, despite his health problems, was quite active, and willing to perform basic, yet intense spots, much to his potential detriment. The man from Lynwood, California reportedly has another two matches remaining in his ongoing Japanese tour, the Reddit user stated.
A major star as an offensive lineman for the University of Colorado, Leon White was a third-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1978 NFL draft. While he spent almost all of his two-year pro career on injured reserve, he did see action in Super Bowl XIV, where the Rams had lost to the Terry Bradshaw-led Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-19.
Several years after retiring from pro football, he entered the world of professional wrestling. He now weighs at least 150 pounds heavier than he did in the NFL and is using the ring name Big Van Vader.
Aside from his WWE and WCW runs, Vader had also made a big impact in New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he stood out as one of the top gaijin (non-Japanese) wrestlers in the company. He then returned home to the U.S. and signed a full-time deal with WCW in 1992.
Vader’s WWE run lasted from 1996 to 1998, but was widely considered a disappointment, as he failed to win any championship belts. He was a three-time World Champion and one-time United States Champion with WCW. He was also a three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion during his time with NJPW.
Vader seeking help from DDP
Despite the warnings from doctors, Vader asserted that he’s still taking bookings and working out in preparation for them. He mentioned of seeking help from recently-inducted WWE Hall of Famer Diamond Dallas Page, and planning to go on Page’s DDP Yoga program in an effort to lose weight.
Many fans are genuinely concerned about Vader’s health. However, others took a tougher approach, calling the former WWE and WCW monster heel out for insisting on wrestling despite his age and his congestive heart disease diagnosis.
Photo courtesy: Xander Hieken/Wikimedia
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