A few questions I regularly get asked:
“Are you the only woman?”
“Do you wrestle men?”
“And… there are no other women?”
A bit redundant, no? Welcome to my life. Clearly people are surprised by the lack of luchadoras around here… or maybe they’re just surprised that there is one woman who decided to fight a bunch of men. In either case, I draw a lot of attention.
Yes, I am currently the only officially debuted luchadora in the Pacific Northwest. Mind you, LLV is the only lucha libre company in the region. Still, you’d think that there would be at least a few other women who would stick with the sport. I wasn’t the first woman to ever come to training, nor am I the only one who regularly attends practice nowadays. But for a long time I was the only woman, and thus far I’m the only one who has wrestled in shows. Fortunately for me and for the company as a whole, there are currently two other female students who train with us.
But back to my point. Yes, I wrestle men. That’s the awesome thing about lucha libre; women don’t have to exclusively fight other women. This has allowed me to wrestle despite the fact that our gym has been over 99% male for most of the time I’ve been training. Now, I absolutely love showing that women are capable of competing with men on a level playing field, but I also want competitors who can demonstrate that I am not an anomaly. More women who are dedicated to testing their physical limits in an admittedly unconventional fashion.
Here’s something to consider. While lucha does provide more gender equality than many other activities, there is still an entire set of challenges for a woman wrestling men. Not the least of which is the age-old mindset that if you’re a gentleman, you can’t hit a girl. Clearly there’s a point where this becomes a load of malarkey, and that point is when you’re training for combative sports. Get over it. If someone has made it past the first few months or so of lucha training, they’re clearly here to wrestle and to compete. There is absolutely no benefit to anybody if women are not treated as equals in the ring. We know what we’ve gotten into, and, surprise! We’re just as durable as you are.
I got tired of the moment of hesitation and the embarrassed, slightly apologetic face that occurred early in my training every time the other luchadors were obligated to hit me. Once everyone at the gym figured out that I would hit them twice as hard as normal if they went easy on me (and after more than a few stern lectures on the topic by the coach), they finally got the picture; some more quickly than others. I receive no quarter during matches simply because I am a woman. However, whenever a new woman comes to the gym that same old hesitation pops right back up.
Aside from the redundant questions, what I notice most when I wrestle is that people in the audience are inspired and amazed by the fact that a woman would choose to pursue lucha libre. Aside from my own ego and pure enjoyment of the sport, that is perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to continue doing lucha. So I guess this is where my blog post turns into a semi-sappy call to other women. Do you want to be a strong, positive role model in a less-than-conventional sport? If you’re in the area and want to give lucha a try, I need more female opponents. I will always be the first luchadora, but I don’t want to be the only one. If you or someone you know (female, male, or otherwise) wants to try lucha libre, check out the Lucha Libre Volcánica website to learn more about the school!