Leon "Vader" White Set For WWE Hall of Fame Induction
Leon White, who wrestled professionally under several names but most recognizable as "Vader," will be posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame's Class of 2022. The former Colorado Buffalo All-American offensive lineman will be enshrined during the 2022 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony as part of WrestleMania Week.
White, was a first-team All-American as a senior in 1977, selected to the American Football Coaches Association/Kodak team as its center (UPI made him a second-team choice). A Playboy Preseason All-American at tackle prior to his original senior year in 1976, but after he went down with a season-ending knee injury one game into the season, the Big Eight granted him an extra year of eligibility; he moved to center for the following season. He lettered at three different positions on the offensive line: guard (1973-75), tackle (1975-76) and center (1977), and is believed to be the only player in Big Eight history to had done so.
He started at least one game in each season, the only known player in CU history to start games in five different years. Owned a 465-pound bench press in college, one of the top efforts in CU history at the time; he also possessed 5.1 speed in the 40-yard dash. Coveted by the NFL, he was invited to and played in three All-Star games after his senior campaign: the Japan Bowl, East-West Shrine Game and the Hula Bowl. A third round pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 1978 NFL Draft (80th overall), and played for the Rams as a rookie that season before injuries sidelined his pro career.
That's when White made a career change, and he soon gained notoriety as a professional wrestler, first as "Baby Bull" and then under the name "Big Van Vader," which he eventually shortened to "Vader." A imposing 6-foot-5, 450-pounder, he first made a splash in Japan, where he destroyed WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki in a wildly controversial match. The local fans were so distraught over seeing their hero dismantled by the gigantic Vader that a riot broke out in Tokyo's Sumo Hall. This pandemonium only further fueled Vader's aggression, and a long line of competitors fell to his devastating maneuvers, especially to his own signature move, the bone-crushing "Vadersault."
He continued to assert his dominance in Japan and eventually stomped his way through competitors all over Europe and Mexico. This path of destruction brought the giant to World Championship Wrestling in the early 1990s where he would eventually become one of their biggest stars. With WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race in his corner, Vader battered WCW legends like Sting, Ric Flair and Cactus Jack and captured three World Heavyweight Championships during his time with the company.
In 1996, Vader made his way to WWE, where he debuted in the Royal Rumble Match. Immediately impactful, he teamed up with manager Jim Cornette and battled Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam that year. That same year, he guest starred as himself in an episode of Baywatch. He then linked up with Paul Bearer and locked horns with Undertaker, scoring a huge victory over The Deadman at Royal Rumble in 1997.
A native of Lynwood, Calif., White passed away on June 18, 2018 at the age of 63.
The WWE Hall of Fame ceremony will take place Friday, April 1, at American Airlines Center in Dallas as part of WrestleMania Week. The event will stream live exclusively on Peacock in the U.S. and WWE Network worldwide. For the first time ever, WWE will present both Friday Night SmackDown and the 2022 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony live on the same night at American Airlines Center, giving all fans in attendance an unprecedented opportunity to witness both events.
Some contents in this release attributed to the WWE website.