Pioneering female WWE wrestler, Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, has passed away. She was 46.
The death was confirmed via Laurer’s Facebook page.
“It is with deep sadness to inform you today that we lost a true icon, a real life superhero. Joanie Laurer aka Chyna, the 9th wonder of the world has passed away. She will live forever in the memories of her millions of fans and all of us that loved her,” wrote Felix of TeamChyna.
Laurer was found dead in her California home on April 20. Police were called to the home after a friend hadn’t heard from the wrestler in a few days. The friend arrived at the home to find Laurer unresponsive, immediately phoning 911. The cause of death is unknown.
“There are no indications or signs that the death was a result of foul play,” the Redondo Beach Police Department said in a statement.
Laurer made great strides in the wrestling world, a sport mainly dominated by men. The wrestler battled female and male competitors—including defeating Jeff Jarrett in 1999 to become the first and only woman to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship. She’d also become the first woman competitor for the King of the Ring tournament.
The WWE released a statement via its website.
“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.
WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon referred to Chyna as “a pioneer in our industry and she will be missed,” via her Twitter page.
Laurer retired from professional wrestling in 2001. She would later appear on VH1’s “The Surreal Life” in 2005 and “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” in 2008, where she discussed her issues with substance abuse. Soon after, she’d teach English in Japan and practice veganism.