Bolivian Wrestling

Trip Start May 31, 2008
Trip End Jul 31, 2009

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This entry comes from the bus on the way to Copacabana from La Paz...

Last night was crazy. I went to my first ever wrestling event, a regular Sunday fixture in La Paz and an experience I'd had recommended to me by some folk along the way in South America.
I was keen as it didn't seem like there was much else to do in the city and Tracy who had been with me on the Pampas tour was up for it also so we booked ourselves in, eager to check out the fabled female 'traditional dress' wrestling which is fairly unique as far as I know...
The venue itself ('Multifunctional Ceja El Alto') was located at the top of La Paz, a significant climb of another few hundred meters from where we were staying, in a basketball arena. The place was pretty run down and on arrival there was a bit of a ruckus outside being caused by a Bolivian man dressed in Hip-Hop style clothes, looking pretty hammered, who was shouting abuse at all the people going into the wrestling. This added to the general sense of danger about the place which seemed a bit of a dump, smelling quite badly of sewage outside the venue.
Inside large groups of families filled the seats and the gringos sat in the prime seats at the front. We were promised the 'Titanes Del Ring' from the 'Asociacion Boliviviana De Catchascan' (Bolivian Wrestling Association) according to the flyer for the day and after we'd got our pop-corn first up was a pretty good fight between a very camp wrestler in pink trousers and a man in a skeleton suite. There was some quite spectacular moves which HAD to hurt as well as good humour with the (presumably gay) camp wrestlers special move seemingly involving kissing his opponent! After a bit of two-ing and fro-ing the Skeleton guy won and there was much applause from the audience who didn't seem to like gay wrestlers. Personally I'd really enjoyed cheering for either of the two bloke to smash each other and found the first bout to be decent entertainment. I was enjoying myself.
Little could prepare me for what I was about to witness next though for the next bout between the fierce looking Comando Zabala (complete with para-military outfit) and both the female Yolanda La Amorosa and her short sidekick, a midget called Lidia Gotita de Amor. Both women were dressed traditionally and introduced themselves to the audience with a warm dignity, hoping we would enjoy the show, whereas the Commando came across as plain mean right from the start.
To begin with the women seemed to make a good effort, with the midget getting some humor out of going for the Commandos nuts, but soon enough for some reason the referee began to take sides with the Zabala and a bad feeling began to come over me from what I was seeing. After Zabala twisted Lidia round by her hair a few times the ref and he started beating up Yolanda and doing moves on her like pulling her legs apart when she was on the floor, displaying her gusset to the audience. At this stage I was amazed to see not only fruit come flying in from random sections of the audience, but also plastic bottles and even chicken bones! As the Ref continued to take on Yolanda Zabala started attacking little Lidia by seemingly biting her head. I'm not sure if it wasn't real blood, I hope it was fake, but it soon started streaming down poor Lidias face. She started crying but the Commando was not through as he pulled her long traditionally platted hair up above her head to shoulder height as she sat there hysterical on the floor and he proceeded to pull a cigarette lighter out and laugh meanly as he set her hair ON FIRE!
I couldn't believe what I was seeing or smelling, but worse (kind of ) was to come. As the audience pelted the two bad guys with fruit the girls put on a bit of a come back and the Commando came out of the ring,. Next thing I know he's near us and looking very angry as some of the audience shout abuse at him to which he take exception, shouting back right next to us at them over the barrier he then proceeds to spit at the audience, presumably at his detractors, but misses completely, his two angry projectiles of phlegm going all over Traceys hair and my friend Louise from Mendoza's jacket!
We were all really shocked, I was really lucky not to get hit too, but more mayhem was to follow as the girls tried to clean themselves up fruit came flying from everywhere at the Commando, one orange missing and hitting poor Tracey on the back of the head. We HAD been warned that our ring side seats could be 'dangerous', but we didn't expect THIS!
After another rubbish effort by the girls to take on the Commando (which to be honest wasn't surprising, the whole concept of smaller women fighting bigger men being not only absurd but by this stage I was feeling it to be abhorrent, obviously) the big man set himself up for his finishing move. At this point Yolanda was outside the ring, near our side, laid on the floor. To say the thing wasn't choreographed would be silly, she could have got up and run away at any time, but she just lay there as the Commando pulled a large plank of wood from under the ring and pulled the barrier with the audience closer so he could lay the plank down and put Yolanda onto his makeshift bridge. I couldn't believe my eyes as he then proceeded to  launch himself from the top level of the ring out onto Yolanda, snapping the plank she was laid on and smashing her another 2 or 3 feet down onto the ground. It was spectacular but REALLY HORRIBLE!
Yolanda didn't get up after that attack and the ref declared victory. Lidia got another load of abuse for a while after as Yolanda continued to lay there, seemingly unable to move for about another 5 mins before two of the organizers carried her out of the arena!
Louise was disgusted and didn't return to her seat, but we couldn't leave as the bus we had paid for was taking a load of us after it had finished. Tracey and I sat through the next bout somewhat shellshocked, as we watched Ninja Boliviano take on about four opponents at the same time, Picudo take on Octagon who seems to injure his shoulder early on and leave the ring before the final bout between two women, Jenifer and Carmen Rojas which, after a little fighting between the two ladies, deteriorated into another men against women fight as the Doberman and scary looking Cobarde showed up to take on the girls. This fight was carnage, with Cobarde coming and spitting at more members of the audience near us, flour bombs being launched at the women and the piece de resistance of the evening as the women scuttled off and brought cakes to the arena, pulled the guys trousers down and performed their finishing moves of making the men sit in their cakes!
To finish with, after victory was announced for the women, cake was hurled at high velocity into the audience, hitting an Asian girl I was sat next to square in the eye before the women then had one final go at beating each other up.
We walked away shell shocked. Tracey had complained to the management saying that Gringos didn't like being spat on and Louise had done the same whilst away from the ring side, only to be apologized to profusely she told us on the bus. The lady had said they were unable to organize a refund, but they were very sorry, they would have a word with the wrestlers, and if she came back tomorrow they would be happy to organize a test, which Louise presumed to be an Aids test.
Like a parachute jump, the wrestling was something I was happy to only experience the one time.
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