In Bolivia, an indigenous woman who would have been disenfranchised before the presidency of Evo Morales has become a popular wrestler. And she loves what she does.
connects with Angela La Folklorista in La Paz to report her story at WBUR’s Only a Game.
“She calls herself, ‘Una mujer de la pollera.’ Woman of the skirt. That’s another way of saying ‘I’m a cholita.’ Cholitas are indigenous women of Bolivia, usually ethnically Quechuan or Ayamaran. You can recognize cholitas by their ankle-length puffy skirts and their tiny bowler hats, which seem like they’ll fall off any minute. …
“Until recently, cholitas were second-class citizens, boxed out from higher education and often stuck cleaning homes,” generally relegated to the kitchen.
“Where Angela works is nothing like a kitchen.
” ‘In the ring,’ Angela says in Spanish, ‘I have a technical fighter style. I’m not rough. I’m on the nice side. There are bad cholitas, as you would call them, but my style is technical.’
“Angela is a cholita luchadora — a Bolivian pro-wrestler. She fights in a league similar to Lucha Libre in Mexico or the WWE in the United States. It’s the kind of wrestling with heroes and villains, entrance songs. Angela gives me two ringside tickets for the upcoming bout in El Alto – La Paz’s sister city. She’s the headliner. …
“Angela doesn’t fight other women. She fights the men. There’s some weird sexist stuff happening, but by the end of the match Angela is always the winner. …
“ ‘I’m very happy and content to have another night of fighting,’ she says in Spanish, ‘another night of art, adrenaline and strength, another night that I’m in the center of the ring, happy, doing what I like most.’ She’s covered in sweat.
“ ‘Mi madre es luchadora,’ Angela’s middle-school aged daughter Theresa says.
“ ‘It’s a pleasure for me that she’s a wrestler,’ Theresa says in Spanish, ‘I’m very proud of her, I’m her number one fan.’
“Theresa describes the cholitas luchadoras as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. But she doesn’t want her mom’s job. It’s too dangerous for her. And unlike the cholitas who came before her, Theresa can choose her own dream.”
Photo: Trevin Spencer/Only A Game
The cholitas luchadoras of El Alto. Angela La Folklorista is on the far right.