Joanie "Chyna" Laurer was one of the first—and certainly most iconic—female wrestlers ever. She lost her life at just 45
Today is a sad day for the wrestling community and the athlete community at large: Last night, iconic female wrestler Joanie "Chyna" Laurer passed away at age 45 at her home in California. (No foul play is currently suspected.) A statement on her website confirms the news, saying, "It is with deep sadness to inform you that we lost a true icon, a real life superhero. Joanie Laurer aka Chyna, the 9th wonder of the world, has passed away."
Chyna was more than her character, though: Joanie broke boundaries. In 1997, made her WWE debut, going on to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship 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, paving the way for legions of female wrestlers who now dominate both the WWE ring and with their own television series on the E! Network, Total Divas. (Meet more Strong Women Are Changing the Face of Girl Power As We Know It.)
"WWE is saddened to learn of reports that Joanie Laurer, best known for competing in WWE as Chyna, has passed away," the organization said in a statement. "A physically striking and talented performer, Chyna was a true sports-entertainment pioneer...WWE extends its condolences to Laurer's family, friends and fans," the company said in a statement. Likewise, fellow WWE wrestlers past and present (plus those who crossed paths with her on other entertainment endeavors, such as her 2005 stint on VH1's The Surreal Life), flocked to Twitter to express their sadness over the news. Check out what they had to say below, and most importantly, let's honor her memory for being the groundbreaking pioneer in women's wrestling that she truly was.
Devastated over Chyna passing,she dated Brutus years before wrestling,such a beautiful soul and so kind to my children,rip Joanie love u. HH — Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) April 21, 2016
Saddened to hear of the passing of Chyna. My condolences to her family. Celebrate her life & the footprint she left on the world #RIPChyna