I knew a bit about the cholitas in Bolivia, but wanted to find the extra layer. Why do these women fight? My partner Andrea Dijkstra – who is also a journalist – helped me find out.
On a Sunday morning, we caught a taxi in La Paz, climbed to the arena in El Alto where the fights between the women were held, and bought two tickets for that day’s match. During the fight, I was able to take some nice shots. Of course I had to ask for permission, and after a little discussion with a guy who seemed to be the manager, it was not a problem.
Andrea and I were able to talk backstage with some of the cholitas while they were resting. Don’t expect a luxurious dressing room or something. There were only stairs behind a blue curtain where the cholitas dressed and got ready for the match. During those little conversations, we made an appointment for the next day to speak with cholita Carmen.
We spent a couple of days with her and her family, even visiting the school where she works. Her life story ended up being incredible – how she resisted her violent man, still took care of her kids and became a strong and proud cholita. Talking with all these women made one thing clear for us: the fights in the arena are mostly fake, but their lives are the real battle.
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