To start the Cinco de Mayo celebration, we salute Lucha libre. In Spanish speaking countries, professional wrestling is the traditional sport that creates national folk heroes. Lucha libre (translation: free fight) is characterized by colorful masks, rapid sequences of holds, and high-flying maneuvers. The classic lucha libre mask holds high significance. The biggest kick in the huevos in lucha libre is when the loser of a match is forced to remove his mask in disgrace. In this macho sport, the female wrestlers (luchadoras) are just as respected as the male wrestlers. [photo courtesy of Reuters]
Bolivia has its own twist on the theatrical free fighting. These brawling femme fatales trade the lucha libre masks for traditional Bolivian bowler hats and colorful twirling skirts (“pollera”) – each skirt a different color depending on the region the fighter is from. The most successful Bolivian female wrestlers go by such handles as Yolanda “The Loved One,” Julia “From La Paz,” and Ana “The Avenger.” Not only do these luchadoras beat each other up (sometimes utilizing wooden crates), but they also open their skirted-can-of-whoop-ass on the male referee – where the cojones are a frequent target.
The big time for luchadoras is Lucha Libre Femenil. Mexican women’s wrestling is considered a perpetual battle between good and evil. These ass-kicking ladies adopt shiny leotards, bright pantyhose, and occasionally the traditional lucha libre mask. A typical match is more like a violent cat fight – with kicks to the face and heads squeezed in mighty, leg scissor-holds. Hell yes! These are the bad girls we love: