Given the popularity of Lucha libre throughout all classes of the Mexican society, many wrestlers, both male and female, have reached the cult status, showing up in movies, TV shows or video games. A female Lucha libre wrestler Dark Angel stands on the ropes of the ring to excite the crowd during a fight at Arena Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico.
Lucha libre, “free fight” or “free wrestling” in Spanish, is a unique Mexican sporting event and cultural phenomenon. A female Lucha libre wrestler trains with her male sparring partner at a combat sports gym in Mexico City, Mexico.
Luchadoras often wear bright shiny leotards, black pantyhose or other provocative costumes touched by the fetish fashion. A female Lucha libre wrestler lies on the floor outside the ring after being knocked down during a fight at Arena Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico.
Lucha libre wrestlers fight in the ring as fictional characters (Good vs. Evil) and use masks to remain anonymous to the fans. Wearing a mask allows them to express themselves freely. A female Lucha libre wrestler Keira kicks down her rival Sexy Polvora during a fight at Arena Plan Sexenal in Mexico City, Mexico.
Masks (máscaras) have been a part of Mexican wrestling since its inception in the early 20th century. The use of the masks in Lucha libre is related to the Aztec civilization and culture. A female Lucha libre wrestler Sexy Polvora ties up her mask before a fight at a local arena in Mexico City, Mexico.
Lucha libre wrestling holds include a number of moves used by luchadora to immobolize, pin down or force her opponent to give up. A female Lucha libre wrestler locks her sparring partner in a hold during the training classes at a combat sports gym in Mexico City, Mexico.
Lucha libre, masked Mexican wrestling, is based on flying acrobatics, rapid sequences of holds and maneuvers and the use of colorful masks. A female Lucha libre wrestler Princesa Blanca holds her rival over the head during a fight at Arena Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico.
Masks play an important part of the fight storyline, they are designed to evoke the images of animals, gods, ancient heroes, and other archetypes, whose identity the wrestler takes on during the fight. A female Lucha libre wrestler waits in the backstage before a fight at a local arena in Mexico City, Mexico.
The vast majority of female Lucha libre fighters in Mexico are amateur part-time wrestlers or housewives. A female Lucha libre wrestler La Fugitiva shows her tattoo in the backstage before a fight at a local arena in Mexico City, Mexico.
Although Lucha libre is basically staged and evokes a circus performance, the choreographed violence or painful holds are done for real and may seriously harm the fighter. A female Lucha libre wrestler Sahori seen locked in a painful hold during a fight at a local arena in Mexico City, Mexico.
To be prepared physically, luchadoras train by doing arm drags, free falls, gymnastics or they run the stairs up and down. Female Lucha libre wrestler run up and down the stairs at a combat sports gym in Mexico City, Mexico.
Lucha libre matches may be won by pinning the rival to the mat for the count of three, knocking her out of the ring for a predetermined count or by disqualification for using the illegal holds and techniques. A female Lucha libre wrestler pins down her rival during a fight at Arena Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico.
The wrestler characters in Lucha libre are divided into two categories. The “good ones”, who fight fair, are called técnicos while brawlers who break the rules are called rudos, “rude ones”. A female Lucha libre wrestler Keira grabs hair of her rival Sexy Polvora after finishing a fight at Arena Plan Sexenal in Mexico City, Mexico.
Since the 1950s, due to the legendary female wrestlers as Chabela Romero, Irma González, Estela Molina and Lola González later on, the women have gained respect of the audience and started to fight their own matches. Female Lucha libre wrestlers fight during a mixed-sex performance at a local arena in Mexico City, Mexico.
Passing through the dirty remote areas in the peripheries, listening to the obscene screams and insults from the mainly male audience, these no-name luchadoras fight straight on the street and charge about 10 US dollars for a show. Mexican kids play on the ropes of the ring before a fight at a local arena in Mexico City, Mexico.
Most of the young luchadoras train hard and wrestle virtually anywhere dreaming to escape from the poverty and to become a star worshipped by the modern Mexican society. A female Lucha libre wrestler Sahori walks out in the backstage for her fight at a local arena in Mexico City, Mexico.

Warrior Queens: Female Wrestling in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, 2011

Lucha libre, literally “free fight” in Spanish, is a unique Mexican sporting event and cultural phenomenon. Although Lucha libre has been traditionally a male domain since its inception in the early 20th century, Mexican women have always been accepted in the ring playing a role of a hostess. Since the 1950s, due to the legendary female wrestlers as Chabela Romero, Irma González, Estela Molina and Lola González later on, the women have gained respect of the audience and started to fight their own matches. However, the female wrestling in Mexico was not completely legalized until 1986.

Mexican wrestling is based on aerial acrobatics and rapid sequences of holds and maneuvers. Pictured as a battle between morally coded characters, one woman fighter plays the “good girl” role while her rival tends to be “bad” and breaks the rules. Women wrestlers, known as luchadoras (fighters), often wear bright shiny leotards, black pantyhose or other provocative costumes touched by the fetish fashion. Some luchadoras use mysterious colorful masks that play an important part of the fight storyline and should evoke the images of animals, gods, ancient heroes or other archetypes, whose identity the luchadora takes on during the fight. Although the fighting is basically staged, the choreographed violence or the painful holds are not faked and may seriously harm the fighter.

Given the popularity of Lucha libre throughout all classes of the Mexican society, many wrestlers, both male and female, have reached the cult status, showing up in movies, TV shows or video games. However, almost all female Lucha libre fighters in Mexico are amateur part-time wrestlers or housewives. Passing through the dirty remote areas in the peripheries, listening to the obscene screams and insults from the mainly male audience, these no-name luchadoras fight straight on the street and charge about 10 US dollars for a show. Still, most of the young luchadoras train hard and wrestle virtually anywhere dreaming to escape from the poverty and to become a star worshipped by the modern Mexican society.

Photography by Jan Sochor
Music by Control Machete – “Artillería Pesada”; Artillería Pesada, Presenta (1999)