Former WWE wrestler Van Vader has died following a two-year battle with congestive heart failure.

His son confirmed the news on social media. According to a tweet sent from the retired wrestler's account, Vader contracted Pneumonia in May and never recovered.

He died on Monday. Vader, real name Leon White, was 63 at the time.

'It is with a heavy heart to inform everyone that my father, Leon White, passed away on Monday night (6/18/18) at approximately 7:25,' one tweet read.


'Around a month ago my father was diagnosed with a severe case of Pneumonia. He fought extremely hard and clinically was making progress. Unfortunately, on Monday night his heart had enough and it was his time.'

In one of his final tweets, Van tweeted about a successful heart surgery he underwent.

'Yesterday I had a surgery on my heart. My heart had shifted to an A-Fib irregular heart be A person in a fib has substanily [SIC] increased chance of Heart Attack &Stroke [SIC]. The surgery was to put the HEART in normal sinus [SIC] was a success,' he wrote.

After news of his passing broke, Twitter was flooded with reactions from fellow wrestlers, celebrities and fans.

One fan wrote: 'Vader, a superstar in Japan but rarely booked well in WWF, was one of the scariest big men ever. Two years ago he found out he was dying; watching him grapple with it via Twitter was really moving. Facing death he never stopped wanting to get back up in the ring, up til the end.'

Another wrote: 'Hearing of Vader's death when I woke up, I cried briefly. Growing up he was so important to me. Being a fat child and generally an outcast, pro wrestling was the place I could feel validated. Vader was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Not only was he big and powerful.

'He was agile and had great stamina. I lived and died with how he was doing in wrestling. I still can't watch the Summerslam 96 match without getting furious. I ordered the show and felt robbed when Vader did not win the title. I know he had a lot of struggles the last few years.'

Who is Big Van Vader?

Big Van Vader was a professional wrestler in the WWE. He was born Leon Allen White in Lynwood, California on May 14, 1955.

Vader's career began with professional football. After college he was drafted to play center for the Los Angeles Rams. He spent his first season on the injured reserve list.

In his second season, Vader played in Super Bowl XIV against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After only a few seasons he was forced to retire.

In 1985, his wrestling career began. He got involved in the American Wrestling Association under the ring name Baby Bull, but later changed it to Bull Power.

From there he started working with New Japan Pro-Wrestling. He also began using the name Big Van Vader for the first time.

Big Van Vader took his act to World Championship Wrestling in 1990. He didn't start working with them full time until 1992, however.

He made his way to the WWE in 1996 when he participated in the Royal Rumble match. He remained a part of the organization until 1998 when he left to get back into Japanese pro wrestling.

He saw much success there and stuck with it until 2002. Vader made brief returns to WWE in 2005, 2012 and 2016.

As late as 2017 he was still appearing at Japanese wrestling events. In April of that year he participated in a six-man tag team match during which he fell ill.

He claimed it was due to dehydration.

In his personal life, Vader was married once to a woman called Grace Connelly. He had one child, a son called Jesse White.

How did Vader die?

Vader died after a two-year battle with congestive heart failure. His son Jesse announced the news on Twitter, telling fans his father contracted pneumonia and never recovered.

Social media reactions to Vader WWE death

Vader Boy Meets World

Vader appeared in four episodes of Boy Meets World between 1995 and 1996. He played Frankie Stechino's (Ethan Suplee) father on the show.

Speaking with WWE about having Vader on the show, creator Michael Jacobs said: 'His persona on television struck a little fear into the hearts of the kids on the show for about six seconds.

'But kids are the first to see right through you and they realized that this was a very good guy and there was a lot of clowning around.

'All the kids on the set just tagged up and went after him, so they probably made his life a little bit of hell.'