La Paz (Chuqi Yapu), Bolivia
9. April, 2017
Watched Aymara women and men ‘fighting’ in the ring in El Alto, a mostly Aymaran sister city of La Paz. This is generally a rather popular event with locals, with the Fighting Cholitas exciting people more than the male champions. Every fight is however pre-scripted and rehearsed in advance. Still, many moves are physically risky and accidents are bound to happen. This risk is taken for a meagre 100 Bolivianos, or €13 per night.
The Fighting Cholitas fight in their trademark multi-layered skirts. These protect them somewhat from injury. One cholita however hurt herself accidentally during the fight by getting a box broken on her head. Fought on after that as a brave Valkyrie she was.
The men however have no such protective luxury. Bare chested only dressed in thin shorts, I couldn’t help but feel concerned for their safety when they threw each other around the ring. Damage to the spinal column must be a common cause of male champions early retirement.