Female fighting spirit: meet the Bolivian women wrestlers taking to the ring in their petticoats

Bolivia’s 'flying cholitas' are reclaiming their identity in the most badass way

‘I was always a fan of wrestling – I liked to go to the coliseum to see old fighters because I wanted to be just like them,’ says 19-year-old Noelia, nicknamed Elsita. ‘At first my mother did not want to let me, she told me that I would get hurt, 
but I followed my dream and I’ve been fighting for three years.’

In the Andean highlands of Bolivia, Noelia is part of a growing subculture of indigenous women, known as the ‘flying cholitas’. Every Sunday, dressed in their traditional pollera (pleated skirts) and bowler hats, with braids down to their waists, they take to the ring for a spectacle of colour and performance. ‘It was the Altenos (women) of El Alto who transformed the city,’ says photographer Luisa Dorr. ‘And here, they relive their sense of struggle and celebrate their fighting spirit as the crowds cheer.’

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