top of page


Action Activism: Cholitas Wrestling

fighting domestic violence in public



   Here flies Maria now. She’s the good one. The villain’s name I forgot, as though the happy ending was all that mattered in life. As though it mattered more than the fight for it. Tonight, every wrestling story ended in predictable happiness, which might be a flat happiness, but still a happiness. The evergreen routine – bad top dog dominates good underdog until good underdog beats bad top dog – fits in between two em dashes, but they sprinkled it with some referee interference, tag teaming, and other nuances of brawly storytelling.

Of course, it’s all show, but the show is real. The event venue, on the other hand, seems strangely detached from reality. The Ratchet looks like a casino-playground-crossover designed by a kid on LSD. Outside, the facade sports a transformer design while the whimsical interior looks like… well, you tell me.  The building is one of El Alto’s cholets – chalets with an intentionally kitschy, glitzy, indigenous (cholo) touch. But this is just another one of those idiosyncrasies that La Paz and its next-door twin city El Alto are so rich in, and a story for another time. Which brings me back to this odd story. Cholitas wrestling. Wow, (wo)man, what a Thursday night.


The entertainment is undeniable. This might not be a line up of pro-pro wrestlers, but they are as pro as people with day jobs get, in that they are pretty pro, the bone-shattering kind. It feels like they’re spending way more time mid-air than humans are designed for. Jumping, flying, falling, like monkeys, birds, and meteors. And all that in their traditional indigenous attire. And with that indigenous attitude too. So cheeky underneath the reservedness. The way they involve the audience with their theatrical antics is anything from audaciously silly to hilariously ridiculous – from stealing sips of beer to kidnapping dance partners.  A lot of the fighting takes place outside the ring and those lives lived on the edges of first row seats are, well, lived on the edge. Occasionally, the referee orders the evacuation of those ringsiders just before the imminent impact of another human bomb, a bundle of two or more wrestlers crashing into those chairs.