It's Vader Time: The Story of a Modern Day Gladiator by Leon White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's Vader Time is the biography of professional wrestler Big Van Vader.
I'm a wrestling fan from way back and Vader was the biggest monster of them all for me for a long time. I even had my picture taken with him about a year before he died.
Anyway, this was on my radar for a while and my wife bought it for me using slow shipping rewards points from Amazan.
Leon White, the boy would become Vader, was born in Compton, CA, two months early weighing in at an impressive 11 pounds. Leon grew up fatherless and wound up playing football with older boys because of his size, eventually gravitating toward wrestling after his NFL career was over.
Leon was wrestling as Baby Bull Leon White by the 11% mark, a positive in my book. The book takes Leon from the AWA to the CWA in Germany to New Japan, WCW, the WWF, and all the rest of the places he wrestled.
Vader comes off as surprisingly humble considering everything he accomplished in wrestling and what a legit bad ass he's presented as. He covers the good times and the bad, like working with Inoki, traveling with Harley Race, eye witness accounts of the Arn Anderson-Sid Vicious fight, and the fight he had with Paul Orndorff that led to his exit from WCW. There are some good road stories, most involving Harley Race. Vader gives his side of the infamous Stan Hansen match that had his eye hanging out of his head and various other incidents from overseas.
Unlike a lot of other wrestlers, Vader doesn't talk himself up all that much, admitting that he was a sensitive teddy bear at times and giving other wrestlers their due. He also doesn't shy away from talking about how Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan shut him out of the main event scene in WCW during their respective reigns of terror. He's also open about his drug and alcohol abuse.
The last couple chapters were hard to read as Vader's body broke down on him, leading to having his knees replaced three different times to a forty-day coma and eventually his death due to pneumonia and congestive heart failure.
Like a lot of wrestling biographies, I wish there were more road stories. I also wish I would have appreciated Vader more when I was younger and still watching wrestling on a regular basis.
It's Vader Time is one of the better wrestling books out there. Four out of five power bombs.
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