Former World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler Chyna (real name Joan Marie Laurer) was found dead at her Redondo Beach, CA home yesterday afternoon. She was only 45. No cause of death has been given.
Born December 27, 1969, in Rochester, NY, Chyna had a difficult childhood. After her parents divorced when she was approximately 4-years old, she and her 2 older siblings had 3 different stepfathers and 1 stepmother. She later reported that her 1st stepfather threatened suicide at one point, and her biological father, who once accidentally stabbed her mother in the thigh with a bread knife, had a problem with alcoholism.
As a child, Laurer learned to play both the violin and cello, and Laurer eventually claimed that a much older teacher sexually kissed her when she was in the 7th grade. She also admitted to purging what she ate when she was 13, and finally left home at age 16 after her mother tried to force her into a drug rehabilitation facility, going instead to live with her biological father. That same year, she began working out, and because her abdominal muscles were so strong, she did not feel any pain when she developed an ovarian tumor. She finished her last year of high school in Spain.
She attended the University of Tampa, graduating in 1992 with a major in Spanish Literature During college, she also studied French and German (she can converse in either language and later claimed during this time she was raped by two men after getting drunk at a party. She also was a member of the ROTC.
Although she later gained fame as a pro wrestler and actress, Chyna, who was fluent in Spanish, French and German originally wanted to use her knowledge of foreign languages to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation or Drug Enforcement Administration. Subsequently, she joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to Guatemala. However, upon her return to the US, she ended up working different jobs, including as a cocktail waitress in a strip club, singer in a band, and a 900-number chat line worker, selling beepers and working as a belly dancer with her sister Kathy.
She also began training at Wladek “Killer” Kowalski’s professional wrestling school in Malden, MA, and had first match was in 1995 against a male wrestler dressed as a woman, The following year Laurer met World Wrestling Federation (WWF) performers Paul “Triple H” Levesque and Shawn Michaels after a professional wrestling show in 1996, and the pair decided to bring her into the WWF as a bodyguard.
At the time, WWF owner Vince McMahon did not want her to join the company because he did not believe the audience would find a woman beating up men believable, but later offered her a contract after learning that World Championship Wrestling wanted her to be the sole-female member of the New World Order
Dubbed Chyna, and was billed as the “Ninth Wonder of the World” (André the Giant was already billed as the 8th), she was a founding member of the stable D-Generation X, She held the WWF Intercontinental Championship (the only female performer to do so) twice and the WWF Women’s Championship once. She was also the first woman to participate in the Royal Rumble and King of the Ring events, as well as to become number one contender to the Championship, with singles victories over several prominent male wrestlers, including multiple-time world champions Triple H, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho and Jeff Jarrett.
She abruptly left the WWE in 2001, reportedly in part due to Triple H ending his relationship with her in favor of Stephanie McMahon, daughter of WWE chairman and owner Vince McMahon. Although she wrestled briefly for New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2002, her career in the ring was placed on hold when she jumped into the world of pornography in 2004 with the release of “1 Night in China” alongside ex-WWE wrestler Sean “X-Pac” Waltman. Chyna went on to appear in five more pornographic films over the next decade. Chyna’s non-porn acting credits included cameos on “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “Mad TV.”