Sun, Mar 04, 2018 - Page 10 News List

FEATURE: Mexican female wrestlers wage war of sexes

AFP, MEXICO CITY

Moonbeam, center, performs at Arena De Lucha Libre 2 De Junio in Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico, on Feb. 4.

Photo: AFP

The crowd goes wild as the masked wrestlers toss each other around the ring in colorful spandex, but this is no ordinary Mexican lucha libre match: It is the “War of the Sexes,” in which three female wrestlers battle three far bigger men.

Mixed matches like this, which emerged on the wildly popular pro wrestling scene about 20 years ago, could be a metaphor for gender relations in Mexico — a country with a deep tradition of machismo, where women are fighting for equal rights even as thousands of them are raped and murdered each year.

“Get back in the kitchen, you damn hag,” yells a fan in the stands in an expletive-strewn outburst, as a wrestler called Moonbeam, decked out in a sequined leotard and tall boots, throws a left hook at her hulking opponent, Nazi Warrior.

Instead of getting upset, Moonbeam says it is “very beautiful” when male fans hurl insults at her.

“It means you’re doing a good job. You’re provoking them and giving them an outlet for their stress,” she said.

“They take out their frustration by yelling at you,” instead of shouting at or hitting their wives when they get home, she said.

Moonbeam, a 42-year-old mother of three, says she loves fighting in mixed matches, which she sees as a “power struggle.”

“We want to show the public and our opponents that we can do this too. You don’t have to be a big, strong man. We’re skilled, we know how to fight a match, and we can beat them,” she said.

Her record backs her up: She has beaten nearly 70 men in her 15-year career.

CUTS AND BRUISES

Lucha libre, one of Mexico’s most popular spectator sports, falls somewhere between actual sport and entertainment.

With its outlandish masks, costumes and characters, it packs more than a little spectacle, but the results are not predetermined, insist wrestlers like Moonbeam and her fellow luchadoras Melisa, Princess Legna and Lilly Star.

And the body blows can be all too real. The women all bear battle scars: bruised arms, scraped legs and back injuries.

They also endure sexism and criticism — sometimes from their own families — for pursuing a “masculine” sport.

“Four out of five matches on every fight card are for men,” said Princess Legna, wearing a turquoise mask.

There are rarely separate dressing rooms for women, and “sometimes you can feel [the male wrestlers] sexually harassing you with their eyes,” she said.

Nazi Warrior — who insists he chose his name because it “sounds scary,” not for ideological reasons — said he tries to be “less rough” in the ring when he fights with women.

Violence against women “is OK, but only up to a point,” he said, before climbing into the ring with his own mother, a fellow wrestler who goes by the name Swastika.

Moonbeam’s husband and coach, fellow wrestler Gabriel Martinez, said he gets upset when he sees her getting hurt in the ring.

However, “it’s her job. It’s part of the price she pays for doing what she loves,” he added.

Bathed in sweat, Moonbeam launches herself off the ropes at a towering opponent called Pambacin the Clown and knocks him flat.

She said she always knew she wanted something different than to be a homemaker.

Compared with many Mexican women, she was lucky: Not only is her husband a feminist, her father also supported her unconditionally, she said.

“My dad gave me this career. He paid my gym membership, he bought my sneakers. He was always very proud of me,” she said at the gym where she now trains, in a rough neighborhood in Mexico State, outside the capital.

This story has been viewed 2201 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top