Chyna was born Joanie Laurer and has been called “The First Lady of Sports Entertainment”. (she legally changed her name to Chyna in 2007). Her accomplishments have gone far beyond the wrestling ring and far beyond anyone’s expectations. Before exchanging body slams, modeling for top magazines and guest-starring on hundreds of shows, Chyna was a shy girl who was born in Rochester, New York. She spent most of her childhood in a home filled with alcoholism and domestic problems. She found her escape through working out, and began doing aerobics and lifting weights at a gym near her home. This is where she found her true niche: in the world of fitness.
She broke all gender barriers everywhere she went and continued her love of fitness throughout her college days. Chyna graduated from the University of Tampa with a 3.9 GPA and a double major in Spanish Literature in under two years. She also studied foreign languages and can speak English, Spanish, German and French. Chyna is a true humanitarian and has served in the US Army ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) and the Peace Corps, helping to teach illiterate third-world children to read. She is a strong supporter of the National Animal Rescue charity, which helps domesticated animals find good, loving homes.
In the early 90’s, Chyna began training to be a professional wrestler under the guidance of the wrestling legend Walter ‘Killer’ Kowalski, in a professional wrestling school in which all the other students were men. She soon took the world of women’s wrestling by storm and began competing in the PGWA, where she was named the 1996 Rookie of the Year award for the Women’s Championship.
After dominating the world of women’s wrestling Chyna was discovered by Paul Levesque (aka “Triple H”) and Shawn Michaels (HBK), two WWF (World Wrestling Federation) superstars who helped Chyna break into the big time. She made her worldwide television debut in February 1997 as a bodyguard for Triple H but soon went on to break all gender stereotypes by competing with some of the toughest men in the WWF, under the name “Chyna”. Years later she became the only woman to qualify for the Royal Rumble and King of the Ring tournaments and became the only female Intercontinental Champion and the only undefeated Women’s Champion in WWF history.
Five years after she debuted as a professional wrestler in the WWF, Chyna parted ways with the company. She then toured Japan, taking the country by storm and battling in the ring with the likes of such champions as Keiji Mutô, The Great Kabuki, and most notably, Masahiro Chôno. Her 2002 Tokyo Dome match against Chono earned her the title of Nikkian Sport’s 2002 Women’s Wrestler of the Year.
Meanwhile, back in the US, Chyna appeared in several films, hosted a variety of shows and showed that women can combine strength and beauty in two top-selling issues of “Playboy” magazine. Her first cover of Playboy is the highest selling Playboy of all time. She also appeared in the first-ever Playboy documentary, which did in-depth interviews with Chyna, and Hugh M. Hefner himself.
Her strong will to the best and “survival of the fittest” attitude made her one of the top wrestlers in history. She has served as a role model to millions of men and women by proving anything is possible through hard work and determination. In her best-selling autobiography “If They Only Knew” she discussed what it took to make it to the top and showed the world what she had to overcome to make her one of the most well-known pop culture icons in the world. Shortly after her first appearance in “Playboy” she released her own fitness video, Chyna Fitness: More Than Meets the Eye (2000), which won awards from fitness and lifestyle magazines. The video is still popular with both Chyna’s fans and fitness fans alike.
Unlike most former pro wrestlers, Chyna has had success on her own two feet. She has been on nearly every talk show and has been featured on hundreds of magazine covers from “Newsweek” to “TV Guide” and “People”. She has starred in two comedies, Cougar Club (2007) and Illegal Aliens (2007) with her dear friend Anna Nicole Smith. She has also hosted a variety of shows, from Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors (2001) to FYE and AMC’s “Tough Guys series. She had many guest-starring roles on TV series, such as Whose Line Is It Anyway? (1998), 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996), Pacific Blue (1996), The Nick Cannon Show (2002), Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1996), MADtv (1995), MTV’s “Diary” and many others. She was also featured on season four of The Surreal Life (2003) and VH1’s spin off, The Surreal Life: Fame Games (2007) as well as films including Alien Tracker (2003), Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion (2000), Frank McKlusky, C.I. (2002), Hunter: Back in Force (2003). In 2008 she was featured on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew (2008) TV series to conquer personal demons and depression caused from an abusive relationship and childhood trauma.
In 2009, she released a fashion book, “Paper Doll”, which became a best-seller. In May 2011 she returned to the world of wrestling with TNA, debuting on the May 12 edition of TNA Impact! Wrestling (2004), and followed it up with one last match at the TNA Sacrifice (2011) Pay Per View, where she and Kurt Angle took on Jeff Jarrett and Karen Angle. That episode was one of the highest-rated for the company in many years. Although her match with TNA was a one-time-only deal, Chyna showed the world she had turned her life around–she overcame depression, emotional trauma and was finally where she wanted to be in life.
Chyna is currently an executive producer on her own Documentary entitled the RECONSTRUCTION OF CHYNA due out the first quarter of 2017