It was just a couple of years ago that we were all tripping out about a 60-year-old Big Van Vader looking absolutely jacked as hell at the gym. But lately, the Vader buzz has taken a number of weird turns. He got into an extended virtual feud with Will Ospreay that led to a bizarre real-life match between the two, and then he began sending out cryptic and distressing tweets, including saying doctors have diagnosed him with two years left to live.
During an appearance on the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling podcast, Vader explained more about his condition, saying that he regretting tweeting the situation out like he did.
“I really kind of regret tweeting it out. In other words when I got diagnosed and was told, ‘Leon, you have a bad heart and you have congestive heart failure and we feel your time is limited and you have maybe a couple of years left … two years or less to live.’ I remember getting very angry and said this has gotta be bulls–t because I don’t feel bad and I remember getting extremely angry.
“Since that time and when I got the news I left the hospital and went right to the gym and rode the bike for a half hour. Hard. As hard as I could and when I got off the bike and got on the treadmill and walked for another 15 minutes pretty hard and I was exhausted but my heart felt fine so how can I do that if my heart is going to give out? The doctor in some of the ongoing appointments that I had with him explained to me that when you are tipping the scales at 400 and 420-25 pounds that a man that size and that heavy isn’t supposed to be able to push himself in a cardiovascular endeavor no matter what it is much past 2 or 3 minutes.”
He said he doesn’t want to take the doctors at face value and that he feels fine, but that he’s not going to slow down. In fact, all things considered, he’d much rather prefer to die in the ring doing what he loves than to sit around and wait for his body to betray him.
“I kind of wish I hadn’t brought it up, and I am continuing to wrestle. Someone said, ‘Aren’t you afraid? Why would you get a booking (to wrestle) at this point when you’ve had this type of diagnosis?’ I said, ‘Brother, where would you rather die in a bed at home, or in the hospital, or would you rather die in front of 10,000 people having fun in the ring?’
“So, if it’s true, if this doctor isn’t just totally full of s–t which, that’s what I’m betting on, and I should say ‘these doctors’ at this point you know, that’s my choice, and that’s the way I decide to go out. If this thing’s gonna happen, I’d rather be in a ring, anywhere, compared to sitting in a hospital room in a hospital bed, sitting there like some sheep getting ready to be slaughtered. It’s not who I am, and it’s not the way it’s gonna happen with me.”
If there’s anyone you’d expect to go out on their own terms, you’d think it would be Van Goddamned Vader. But let’s hope he’s right and that he’s still got many years left. He went on to say that he’s doing DDP Yoga right now, and DDP Yoga can do anything. We all know that.