Chyna was born on December 27th 1970. Her real name is Joan Laurer. Her parents, Joe and Tina divorced when she was young. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother (according to her) had a new guy every year. In an interview she said that weightlifting was her way out from that situation. She was basically raised by her sister Kathy. Her first boyfriend and trainer was Gerry Blais.
Joanie Laurer was an intelligent and athletic student in high school and at the University of Tampa where she majored in Spanish and Literature. Fluent in several languages, she spent time after college serving in the Peace Corps and contemplated where her life would take her. Capable of entering many different fields, she was drawn to follow her interest in physical fitness. She trained for physical fitness contests and was very active in the weight room.
One night Chyna was watching TV with her sister Kathy and saw a WWE fight. She decided to try it. Her first destination was "Killer" Kowalski's Wrestling School where she graduated as one of the best.
Chyna really wanted to make it big in the wrestling business and she knew wrestling for "women's" promotions wasn't going to get her anywhere. She says she would travel around to wherever the promotions were with her portfolio and get agents to look at it. According to her, she didn't care if they through it in the garbage when they left, as long as they looked at it. Paul Levesque aka Triple H came up with the idea of using her as a "bodyguard" type person to walk him out to the ring. So he pitched the idea to the owner of the World Wrestling Federation Vince McMahon. Vince wasn't too thrilled of the idea of a muscular woman but he said they could try it out and see how the fans reacted. Her size, strength and poise caused her to be feared by men and women alike throughout the World Wrestling Federation, so much so that she was openly referred to as "The Ninth Wonder of the World".
Chyna began interfering in matches as a member of Degeneration X, often throwing low-blows to the male opponents in the ring, helping to secure important, albeit tainted, victories for her team. Often the men would confront her but were too "chivalrous" to physically attack her. This changed when an irate Ken Shamrock suplexed her during a nationally televised match. She finally got an opportunity to test her mettle against a male opponent as she took on Val Venis in a match in June of 1999 when she scored a pinball after delivering a face buster to Venis.
Her new success led her to enter the King of the Ring tournament where she was defeated by the Road Dogg, but she moved up the charts as a serious competitor to males in the WWE.
In addition to her success in the ring, Chyna became very popular amongst female fans because of her willingness to break through the glass ceiling and compete on the same playing field with the "big boys". She has also put out a fitness video and appeared on many talk shows discussing her life and the obstacles she has faced. Although not entirely comfortable with being viewed as a role model, she found satisfaction in knowing that younger women followed her lead in maintaining a healthy self-esteem and going after their dreams.