Photos: Bolivia’s wrestling Cholitas back in the ring after unrest

Wearing a bright green billowing skirt and dainty black velvet flats, Bolivian wrestler Lidia Flores launches herself from the second rope of the outdoor wrestling ring and squashes her hapless male opponent. Suspended for two weeks as anti-government protests and blockades rocked El Alto, a sprawling city overlooking La Paz, the cholitas luchadores are back on the canvas at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club.

Updated On Dec 02, 2019 10:29 AM IST
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Ana Luisa Yujra (L), aka “Jhenifer Two Faces” and Lidia Flores, aka “Dina, The Queen of the Ring”, members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia. The crowd of elderly men, young women and parents with small children heckle and hurled insults as the wrestlers, wearing traditional “pollera” skirts and long braids, put on a chaotic show that often spills outside the ring. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)
Updated on Dec 02, 2019 10:29 AM IST

Ana Luisa Yujra (L), aka “Jhenifer Two Faces” and Lidia Flores, aka “Dina, The Queen of the Ring”, members of the Fighting Cholitas, fight at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club in El Alto, Bolivia. The crowd of elderly men, young women and parents with small children heckle and hurled insults as the wrestlers, wearing traditional “pollera” skirts and long braids, put on a chaotic show that often spills outside the ring. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)

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Luisa Yujra (R), fights with a male wrestler. Weeks of unrest triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged, have made life difficult and dangerous for people in El Alto, a stronghold for Morales. With roads blocked and many afraid to leave their homes in the city, the Sunday high-altitude wrestling matches were cancelled for a fortnight. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)
Updated on Dec 02, 2019 10:29 AM IST

Luisa Yujra (R), fights with a male wrestler. Weeks of unrest triggered by the disputed October 20 election, which Evo Morales claimed to have won and opposition groups said was rigged, have made life difficult and dangerous for people in El Alto, a stronghold for Morales. With roads blocked and many afraid to leave their homes in the city, the Sunday high-altitude wrestling matches were cancelled for a fortnight. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)

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Lidia Flores, performs at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club. Flores said wrestling is a welcome relief from the pressure of her day job cooking in a restaurant. “Wrestling de-stresses me,” Flores, 44, told AFP as she stoods outside the venue before the match handing out fliers to people walking through a street market. After a fortnight hiatus, the feisty mother of three, who has been wrestling for 12 years, was “very keen” to get back in the ring. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)
Updated on Dec 02, 2019 10:29 AM IST

Lidia Flores, performs at Sharks of the Ring wrestling club. Flores said wrestling is a welcome relief from the pressure of her day job cooking in a restaurant. “Wrestling de-stresses me,” Flores, 44, told AFP as she stoods outside the venue before the match handing out fliers to people walking through a street market. After a fortnight hiatus, the feisty mother of three, who has been wrestling for 12 years, was “very keen” to get back in the ring. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)

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Ana Luisa Yujra (R) and Lidia Flores fight. “It was the first time (in eight years) that we had to stop because of conflict,” said organizer Marie Penaranda, 30, as she sold tickets for 20 bolivianos (around $3) each. Tensions eased at the weekend with the passing of a bill authorizing new elections and ongoing talks between the caretaker government and protesters aimed at ending the unrest. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)
Updated on Dec 02, 2019 10:29 AM IST

Ana Luisa Yujra (R) and Lidia Flores fight. “It was the first time (in eight years) that we had to stop because of conflict,” said organizer Marie Penaranda, 30, as she sold tickets for 20 bolivianos (around $3) each. Tensions eased at the weekend with the passing of a bill authorizing new elections and ongoing talks between the caretaker government and protesters aimed at ending the unrest. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)

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Blanca Perez (L), aka “Katy The Beautiful”, fights with a male wrestler. Ana Luisa Yujra said the spectacle is “affordable” therapy for the crowd after so much violence. “I love demonstrating the ability, agility and capacity that a woman can have,” said Yujra, who works as a geriatric nurse. “It is really admirable ... how these women in a pollera can get into the ring, wrestle, be in those positions,” Martha Mayta, a spectator told AFP. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)
Updated on Dec 02, 2019 10:29 AM IST

Blanca Perez (L), aka “Katy The Beautiful”, fights with a male wrestler. Ana Luisa Yujra said the spectacle is “affordable” therapy for the crowd after so much violence. “I love demonstrating the ability, agility and capacity that a woman can have,” said Yujra, who works as a geriatric nurse. “It is really admirable ... how these women in a pollera can get into the ring, wrestle, be in those positions,” Martha Mayta, a spectator told AFP. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)

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Flores, wearing a shawl the same shade of garish green as her flouncy skirt, climbed into the ring and tossed her bowler hat on the floor. To warm up for her mixed pairs fight against Yujra, the plump wrestler performed a couple of running somersaults on the canvas, revealing the lacy layers of her pollera and her underwear to the scores of spectators. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)
Updated on Dec 02, 2019 10:29 AM IST

Flores, wearing a shawl the same shade of garish green as her flouncy skirt, climbed into the ring and tossed her bowler hat on the floor. To warm up for her mixed pairs fight against Yujra, the plump wrestler performed a couple of running somersaults on the canvas, revealing the lacy layers of her pollera and her underwear to the scores of spectators. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)

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Flores (2-R),and Ana Luisa Yujra (2-L), fight against male wrestlers. 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. “It is a demonstration for us of a woman defending herself against men,” Norah Martinez Salazar, 34, told AFP. “It seems rough, but it’s something interesting.” (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)
Updated on Dec 02, 2019 10:29 AM IST

Flores (2-R),and Ana Luisa Yujra (2-L), fight against male wrestlers. 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. “It is a demonstration for us of a woman defending herself against men,” Norah Martinez Salazar, 34, told AFP. “It seems rough, but it’s something interesting.” (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)

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After an intense battle peppered with references to the political crisis gripping the country, Yujra and her male partner decked out in shiny red trousers and matching top, were declared the winners. A visibly exhausted and dishevelled Flores blew kisses to her fans as she left the ring defeated. “I feel bad,” she said. “I’m really tired and out of breath.” (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)
Updated on Dec 02, 2019 10:29 AM IST

After an intense battle peppered with references to the political crisis gripping the country, Yujra and her male partner decked out in shiny red trousers and matching top, were declared the winners. A visibly exhausted and dishevelled Flores blew kisses to her fans as she left the ring defeated. “I feel bad,” she said. “I’m really tired and out of breath.” (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)

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