Redondo Beach

Former Pro Wrestler Chyna Found Dead

Joan Marie Laurer, known by her stage name Chyna and described as the "Ninth Wonder of the World," died peacefully at the age of 46, her manager said

Former WWE star Chyna was found dead in her Redondo Beach, California, home on Wednesday, her manager confirmed to NBC4.

Joan Marie Laurer, known by her stage name Chyna and described as the "Ninth Wonder of the World," died at the age of 46, her manager Anthony Anzaldo said.

A friend arrived at Laurer's home in Redondo Beach and called 911 after she found that she was not breathing, Redondo Beach police said.

Laurer's friend said she went to her apartment to check on her because she had not answered her phone in a few days.

Police said it appeared that Laurer was dead before her friend arrived, according to preliminary investigation.

"There are no indications or signs that the death was a result of foul play," the Redondo Beach Police Department said in a statement.

Her death was still under investigation. An autopsy is scheduled for sometime in the next few days.

The 6-foot tall star rose to fame in 1997 as the WWE's "Ninth Wonder of the World." She broke barriers wrestling against male competitors.

"She was truly a pioneer in our industry, and she will be missed," Stephanie McMahon, wner and executive with WWE, tweeted.

Laurer wasn't afraid to "blaze her own trail and create a path for those who would follow," Triple H, whose real name is Paul Levesque, said on Twitter. "A pioneer whose star shined bright. (hash)RIPChyna."

Laurer was a native of Rochester, New York, and graduated from the University of Tampa in Florida in 1992 before taking up wrestling after a series of different jobs. She was born Dec. 27, 1969, and online biographies that listed her age as 45 were incorrect, her manager told NBC. 

She joins a long list of WWE professional wrestlers who have died relatively young, including Rick Rude, Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig, the Ultimate Warrior and Owen Hart.

After leaving the WWE in 2001, Laurer posed for Playboy and appeared in adult films and on reality TV, including the shows "The Surreal Life" and "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew."

She was also was an avid animal rights advocate.

The WWE, meanwhile, posted a statement saying the organization was saddened to learn of her passing. 

"A physically striking and talented performer, Chyna was a true sports-entertainment pioneer. Not only was the Superstar dubbed 'The Ninth Wonder of the World' a founding member of the groundbreaking faction D-Generation X, but she also holds the distinction of being the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble Match and the first and only woman to win the Intercontinental Championship," the statement said.

The news was also shared on Chyna's official Twitter account.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Laurer's age when she died.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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