Wrestler dubbed Ninth Wonder of the World

Reality television personality Chyna was once a World Wrestling Entertainment star.
Reality television personality Chyna was once a World Wrestling Entertainment star.PHOTO: CHYNA'S FACEBOOK

LOS ANGELES• Former professional wrestler and reality television personality Chyna was found dead in her Los Angeles-area home on Wednesday, police said. She was 45 years old.

Officers were called to Chyna's Redondo Beach apartment after a friend found her in bed not breathing, the city's police department said in a statement. She had not answered her phone in several days, police said.

A post on her official Facebook page confirmed the entertainer, born Joanie Laurer, had died, reported Reuters.

"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," the post said.

The cause of death was under investigation, but police said there were no signs of foul play.

Celebrity news website TMZ said police were investigating overdose as a possible cause as she had struggled with addiction for years. Prescription bottles were found in the home, but there were no illegal drugs.

She last appeared in a YouTube video posted on Sunday, in which she appeared to be intoxicated.

Chyna became a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star in the late 1990s and was dubbed the Ninth Wonder of the World in the World Wrestling Federation.

She won the WWF Intercontinental Championship title from the World Wrestling Federation two times and the WWF Women's Championship once.

She later appeared in both mainstream and pornographic films before going to Japan to teach English.

She also appeared on reality television shows, among them VH1's Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab With Dr Drew.

A statement on the WWE website on Wednesday said: "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."

WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon wrote on Twitter: "She was truly a pioneer in our industry and she will be missed. #RIPChyna."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2016, with the headline 'Wrestler dubbed Ninth Wonder of the World'. Subscribe