Joanie Laurer, who found international fame as pro wrestler Chyna, was found dead Wednesday afternoon at her apartment in Redondo Beach, California. She was 46.
The news was confirmed by the entertainer's official Facebook page. "It is with deep sadness to inform you today that we lost a true icon, a real life superhero," the somber statement read. "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."
Chyna wasn't just a WWF (now known as the WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment) legend; she was a true pioneer for women in the sport.
With her busty, chiseled physique and near 6-foot frame, Chyna was the true queen of the ring in the late '90s. After getting her start as male wrestler Triple H's bodyguard, Chyna broke into the ring herself, where she often competed against -- and defeated -- male wrestlers. She was the first and only woman to win the WWE's Intercontinental Championship, defeating Jeff Jarrett in 1999. She later won its Women’s Championship in 2001, after beating Ivory.
Members of the WWE community have taken to Twitter to share their grief and honor Chyna's legacy.
After retiring from pro wrestling in 2001, Laurer famously posed for Playboy and appeared in adult films. She then turned to reality television, appearing on VH1's The Surreal Life in 2005 and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2008, where she candidly discussed her years of substance abuse. [Note: VH1 and MTV News are both owned by Viacom.] The former wrestler later spent a few years away from the scene teaching English in Japan, where she went vegan and started to get her life back on track. Upon returning to the U.S., Laurer seemed determined to reclaim her legacy.
No official cause of death has been given at this time; the Los Angeles County coroner is currently investigating.
CORRECTION (4/21/16, 9:17 a.m. ET): Contrary to reports, Laurer was 46 at the time of her death, according to a statement from her manager Anthony Anzaldo. An earlier version of this story misstated her age.