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Former WWE superstar Joan Marie Laurer, also known as Chyna, has died at the age of 45, her manager said in a statement on Twitter early Thursday.
Laurer, a native of Rochester, New York, was mostly known for performing under the name Chyna during her career with WWE (then known as WWF). She was also a renowned body builder and an adult film star.
In 1999, Laurer became the first woman to participate in the WWF’s Royal Rumble event. Later that year she broke another barrier by becoming the first woman to participate in the King of The Ring tournament — which had mostly been dominated by male performers — and shared a championship belt.
In between her wrestling career, Laurer started in six adult films and was featured on four seasons of “The Surreal Life,” “My Fair Brady” and “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” on VH1.
Ultimately, Laurer struggled with substance abuse. Former boyfriend and wrestler Sean Waltman told the Calgary Sun in 2005 that she was battling drug and alcohol-related issues as well as a mental illness.
The immediate cause of death was unknown. The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner told FOX411 she was found dead in her Redondo Beach, Calif., home on Wednesday afternoon.
Her manager told Pro Wrestling Sheet she had been taking medication for anxiety and sleep deprivation. The coroner's office is investigating if her death could have been an accidental overdose. Still, the office has not ruled anything out.
"It was reported as a possible overdose or an accidental overdose or as natural causes. I understand that she evidently had a history of drug use so we’re looking at everything," Winter explained.
Adieu Chyna, u were my youngest bro best wrestler thab during royal rumble and co....
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