Women’s wrestling is hugely popular in Bolivia, with crowds flocking to see women in traditional dress, known as cholitas, fighting it out in the ring.
But the sport has also come to represent the fight for equal rights by the poor indigenous women of this south American country. They’ve become stars and celebrate the recognition they’ve received as a result, but say they’re being exploited by promoters, make little money and receive no medical care for their injuries.
Wrestling has long been a popular entertainment here but, 10 years ago, local women started getting into the ring and upending the traditional values. The wrestling cholitas have become stars in their own right, but they still have important battles to win outside the ring.
When I win, people, the kids, the younger people, and in particular the old ladies, are all very happy if I’m winning, especially if I’m wrestling a man. If I win against a man, a male wrestler – they’re even happier… They see women don’t just take it. Women can be stronger. Up there in the hall, the wrestling takes place in that grey building.
VERALUZ CORTEZ, CHOLITA (Translation)
Video journalist Giovana Vitola reports on their fight both in and out of the ring.