Bolivia's Indigenous Women Wrestlers Battle for Muscle Equality

Published November 29th, 2019 - 05:06 GMT

Suspended for two weeks as anti-government protests and blockades rocked El Alto, the cholitas luchadores are back on the canvas at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club.

With roads blocked and many afraid to leave their homes in the city more than 13,000 feet above sea level, the Sunday high-altitude wrestling matches were canceled for a fortnight.

The raucous crowd of elderly men, young women and parents with small children heckle and hurl insults as the indigenous women wrestlers, wearing traditional multilayered "pollera" skirts and long braids, flip, kick, punch and pull each other's hair in a chaotic show that often spills outside the ring onto the pavement.

To warm-up for her mixed pairs fight against Yujra, the plump wrestler performs a couple of running somersaults on the canvas, revealing the lacy layers of her pollera and her underwear to the scores of spectators.

The sight of male and female wrestlers stomping, beating, choking and spraying water on each other does not bother the crowd as they egg on the performers to go even further.

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Bolivian wrestler Blanca Perez, aka "Katy The Beautiful", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Blanca Perez, aka "Katy The Beautiful", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (L), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces" and Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMID

Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (L), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces" and Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces" and Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMID

Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces" and Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", member of the Fighting Cholitas, gestures during a bout at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", member of the Fighting Cholitas, gestures during a bout at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Blanca Perez (L), aka "Katy The Beautiful", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Blanca Perez (L), aka "Katy The Beautiful", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", Lidia Flores (on the canvas), aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, and a wrestler fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said

Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", Lidia Flores (on the canvas), aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, and a wrestler fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra, aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", member of the Fighting Cholitas, grimaces during a bout at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra, aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", member of the Fighting Cholitas, grimaces during a bout at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

Bolivian wrestler Blanca Perez, aka "Katy The Beautiful", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (L), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces" and Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMID
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces" and Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMID
Bolivian wrestler Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", member of the Fighting Cholitas, gestures during a bout at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Blanca Perez (L), aka "Katy The Beautiful", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", Lidia Flores (on the canvas), aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, and a wrestler fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra, aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", member of the Fighting Cholitas, grimaces during a bout at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Blanca Perez, aka "Katy The Beautiful", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Blanca Perez, aka "Katy The Beautiful", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (L), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces" and Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMID
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (L), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces" and Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces" and Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMID
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces" and Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", member of the Fighting Cholitas, gestures during a bout at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Lidia Flores, aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", member of the Fighting Cholitas, gestures during a bout at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Blanca Perez (L), aka "Katy The Beautiful", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Blanca Perez (L), aka "Katy The Beautiful", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", Lidia Flores (on the canvas), aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, and a wrestler fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", Lidia Flores (on the canvas), aka "Dina, The Queen of the Ring", both members of the Fighting Cholitas, and a wrestler fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra (R), aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", a member of the Fighting Cholitas, fights with a male wrestler at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra, aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", member of the Fighting Cholitas, grimaces during a bout at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP
Bolivian wrestler Ana Luisa Yujra, aka "Jhenifer Two Faces", member of the Fighting Cholitas, grimaces during a bout at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 24, 2019. After a fortnight hiatus due to anti-government protests and blockades, the Fighting Cholitas are back in the ring. The unrest was triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP