"Cholitas", female wrestlers in plaits and petticoats

It's rare to see long skirts and stockings in a wrestling ring... Except in Bolivia, where American Indian women don their best traditional dress for fights. But don't be fooled into thinking this makes them any less fierce...

Every Sunday in a vast public gym in El Alto, 4,150 metres above sea level, a dozen female wrestlers turn up to fight. Of indigenous Ayamara origin, the women wear the traditional skirt, bloomers, plait and hat to enter the ring. The locals call the fights "the highest wrestling matches in the world".

Foreign tourists pay a high price to watch the show. No doubt some of the money the wrestlers earn - up to 60 euros per fight - goes towards buying the increasingly flamboyant attire. In 2008, several "cholitas" were invited to take part in a popular US talk show for Hispanic audiences, and their popularity has since exploded.

Video posted on YouTube par Cesar Angel.

"It’s just for show, there’s no real violence"

Cesar is a Spanish tourist who watched a cholita wrestling match in El Alto, Bolivia.

I think cholita wrestling is mainly for tourists these days. Tourists pay three times as much for their tickets as locals do, but they do get better seats. Most of the audience are American or Anglo-Saxon tourists, or backpacking kids visiting the Salar de Uyuni salt desert.

There’s no real violence in cholita wrestling, it’s just for show. Male wrestlers do the first couple of matches: they’re really bad. The cholitas come in at the end, with their flashy colourful outfits, and they’re the real stars of the show. There was a Peruvian TV channel filming the fights the day I was there.

Tourists buy "cholita wrestling" tours from travel agencies in La Paz for about 40 euros. The price includes transfers, entry tickets, a little porcelain cholita souvenir, as well as two free coupons to go to the loo! Tourists can also buy wrestling masks and other souvenirs during the games – as you can see it’s a real business. "

Photos posted on Flickr by Cesar Angel.

"Most cholita wrestlers are also housewives"

Alberto Medrano is a Bolivian blogger who promotes cholita wrestling.

Most Cholitas are housewives from low-income families who train as wrestlers on the side. They train very hard, with well-known professional wrestlers like Kid Simonini. They learn how to tackle, throw their opponent, hold him or her down, dodge blows, jump and fall without hurting themselves. Some of them become really excellent wrestlers and famous in their own right."

Scenes from cholita wrestling matches

Vidéos posted on Youtube by Cesar Angel.




joseph walker

walker-you're boring!

Jo Crawler where's you at?

Hey Jo, I think you've come through to the wrong page! this article's all about Cholita wrestlers from Peru. There is no mention of the west killing anyone here. It seems the wrestling described in the article is a bit like WWF but without the big budget to go with it, and it looks like the ladies haven't discovered the game-changing effects of steroids... yet.
Go get 'em ladies, and when you're done there's the housework and what's for dinner?...

You seem to love criticizing

You seem to love criticizing france 24 unregistereduserjosephwalker so why do you spend all day reading it? I think this story about cholitas is brilliant. the Observers covers enough bloodshed in the mid east.

France 24 can you please block Joesph? He's got nothing interesting to say and doesn't seem to understand any of the article you write

block jo? nah,we need

block jo? nah,we need some-one to pick on!