Don’t let the colorful poofy skirts, braided hair and stocky physique fool you. These cholitas luchadoras can kick your a$$. For a good buck, they actually wrestle each other while their town watches.
Cholita, the diminutive of chola, is the name given to the local indigenous women of El Alto, Bolivia, and some of them have become celebrities thanks to the sport. Juan Mamani, a local luchador, taught them how to wrestle after people had lost interest in watching his fights.
“At the beginning, they thought of it as a bit of a joke,” said photographer Eduardo Leal. But that soon changed. “They are hugely popular, compared to the men,” he said.
When the cholitas hold a fight on Sundays, there are many tourists watching, but mostly locals. “I could see the local crowd was nearly all their friends,” Leal said.
Their popularity has come with a price, though. Some of them have lost their husbands or boyfriends because the men can’t stand to see the women show off their strength. You know, typical machista attitude.
The women dropped Mamani as their boss because he was keeping most of the money, according to Leal, but the cholitas have kept on fightin’.
Check out more pictures of these fierce women at Refinery29
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