Watch Cholita Wrestling in La Paz, Bolivia


For a completely unique experience you won't find elsewhere, make your way from La Paz to the high mountains of El Alto to watch women wrestlers, known as Cholita Wrestlers, las cholas gladiadoras, or cholitas luchadoras. Performing every Sunday evening, women wrestlers get fitted up in traditional Bolivian garb – plaited hair; flouncy, multi-layered pollera skirts; patterned shawls; and bowler hats - to tackle, choke, and perform their best wrestling moves on their opponents.

How Cholitas Got in the Ring

The idea of female fighters was introduced around 15 years ago by wrestling promoter Juan Mamani. Mamani's idea slowly gained popularity as the women learned to fight, pushing wrestling training into their already packed schedules of family life, home life, as well as full-time day jobs; and as spectators began to accept the idea of women in a wrestling ring. Women fighters, too, felt enlivened by finally having a channel of self-expression, and a form of resistance to domestic violence that many faced on a daily basis. Now, the cholita wrestlers are El Alto's main attraction, drawing in more crowds – tourists and locals alike - and cash than their male counterparts.

Make Your Way to a Cholita Wrestling Match

To get to the wrestling match from La Paz, start at San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco) and take a minibus to CAJA, getting off at El Alto Multifunctional Center (Multifuncional de la Ceja de Alto, La Paz, Bolivia). The bus ride up the winding road to El Alto is about half an hour long, and costs Bs 2 each way. Wrestling tickets at the door cost Bs 50, or $7 USD. Alternatively, you can book a tour to get to the wrestling match with virtually any tourist operator in La Paz. Just ask for Cholita Wrestling. Tickets cost $12-50 USD and upwards, and include popcorn, drinks and a picture with the cholitas.

Christina Wong is a Bay Area native who loves to travel the world, but always finds her way back to California.