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WWE honored one of its most popular female athletes during a segment of its flagship show, RAW, last night.

Chyna, whose real name is Joan Marie Laurer, was found dead in her southern California apartment last week. The 45-year-old was born in Rochester, and later went to school in Penfield and Pittsford and then at the former Monroe High School in the city.

Laurer graduated from the University of Tampa in Florida before taking up wrestling, and later becoming known as the "9th Wonder of the World" because her wrestling predecessor Andre the Giant had already called himself the eighth.

She was the first women to compete in many of WWE's signature events, including King of the Ring and Royal Rumble.

She joins a long list of WWE professional wrestlers who have died relatively young, including Rick Rude, Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig, the Ultimate Warrior and Owen Hart.

A cause of death has yet to be released.

TCLAUSEN@Gannett.com

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