Big Van Vader, pro wrestler, announces he has 2 years to live

BOY MEETS WORLD - "The Thrilla' in Phila" - Airdate: May 5, 1995.
BOY MEETS WORLD - "The Thrilla' in Phila" - Airdate: May 5, 1995. L-R: BEN SAVAGE;LEON ALLEN WHITE (AKA BIG VAN VADER). ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

WWE and WCW legend Big Van Vader, whose real name is Leon White,  is wrestling with congestive heart failure.

The 61-year-old former world heavyweight champion says his heart has worn out from years of wrestling and football: “[I was] told by two heart doctors, at this time, that my heart is worn out from football and wrestling. I have two years to live, congestive heart failure reality.”

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In a second tweet, he admitted to only coming to terms with the prognosis, saying “I am only now allowing this as part of my reality.”

Hundreds of people have expressed their condolences to Vader, including current WWE Raw general manager — and hardcore legend — Mick Foley. “Leon is dying. He has been told by doctors that he may have less than two years left to live,” Foley wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “His legacy is so important to him, and he has told me that being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame would mean so much on both a personal and professional level.”

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Others on social media have also expressed their condolences, while hoping that Vader “proves the doctors wrong”:

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Vader was known in the ring for his catchphrase, “It’s Vader Time.” His trademark move was called the Vader Bomb and it earned him the reputation as one of the most agile super heavyweights in wrestling history.

According to WWE’s official biography, Vader weighed 450 pounds at the time of his debut. He captured three heavyweight titles during his career. Vader’s wrestling career spanned over 31 years.

Before venturing into the world of wrestling, Vader played two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and even made it to the Super Bowl. The retired wrestler strung together a legendary grappling career, becoming an icon in North America and Japan, and crossing over to television appearances on Boy Meets World and Baywatch.

— With files from ET Canada

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