Wrestling Cholitas of El Alto
by Enoch Contreras

project STATEMENT

In the heights of El Alto, Bolivia there is an exclusive group of women who have dedicated themselves to the sport of wrestling. Tough women wearing traditional bowler hats and multilayered skirts performing suplexes and chokeholds. What started off as a form of entertainment quickly became an expression against the patriarchal system in Bolivia. When the cholitas first took to the ring, they were met with resistance and criticism from their male counterparts. “A woman’s place is at home, not inside a ring.” Their introduction to wrestling was fifteen years ago—what began as a slow start full of discrimination eventually became a highlight for both tourists and locals alike. But what seemed like an afternoon full of amusement for the audience was a fulfilling opportunity for the cholitas to demonstrate that they belonged on a level playing field with the men—both in and out of the ring. Their story is a part of a movement of equality across Bolivia.

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