Bolivia’s wrestling ‘cholitas’ are about female empowerment

Global Business

Bolivia's wrestling 'cholitas' are about female empowerment1

No visit to Bolivia would be complete without checking out La Paz’s famous wrestling ‘cholitas’ – indigenous Aymara women who have turned Mexican Lucha libre into a Bolivian show of female empowerment.

CCTV’s Dan Collyns reports from La Paz.

Bolivia's wrestling 'cholitas' are about female empowerment

Bolivia's wrestling 'cholitas' are about female empowerment

No visit to Bolivia would be complete without checking out La Paz's famous wrestling ‘cholitas.’ Indigenous Aymara women who have turned Mexican Lucha libre into a Bolivian show of female empowerment.

The delirious world of Bolivian wrestling features bone-crunching body slams and pole-axes that will make you wince.  Dizzying aerial attacks and double-whammies that might make you blush.

Odds are you’ve never seen such daintily dressed women dole out or take this kind of punishment.

It’s all in a night’s work for La Paz’s wrestling ‘cholitas’ like “La Simpatica Sonia” but she’s not as nice as she looks.

Don’t be fooled by Sonia’s small stature and elegant attire. She can put you in a mean chokehold and she packs a bruising body slam.  Sonia, whose real name Miriam Mamani, is 22 and has been a wrestler for five years.

She trains three times a week and by day she works as a hairdresser.

“If a man can do it why can’t a woman. That’s what was wrong in Bolivia before. There was a lot of machismo; men can study, women cannot, the same occurred in wrestling. Only men could wrestle, why can’t women wrestle too, and why not a woman in a pollera?” Mamani said.

The pollera is the flouncy, multi-petticoated skirt worn traditionally by Aymara women in Bolivia, and it’s what Sonia feels most comfortable in.  She wears it, just as her mother did before her, and she trains and wrestles in it too.

For a hair-pulling, goodie-versus-baddie slapstick fight night, the ‘cholitas’ can make between $10 to $35, depending on experience.

Hilarious, at times bizarre and strangely empowering, it’s an entertaining night out for tourists and locals alike.

Especially when you know the obstacles its stars have wrestled to step into the ring.