“Mamachas” From Peru And Bolivia Get Into The Ring To Promote Craft Fair

By Dialogo
May 17, 2010

A group of ten Peruvian and Bolivian “mamachas” (peasant women) offered a boxing demonstration to promote a binational peasant fair of craft products and typical food from the Andean highlands being held in Lima, AFP confirmed. Dressed in colorful polleras (full skirts) and tops with the colors of their countries’ flags, the “mamachas” held five fights mixing jokes and strong blows, to the laughter of their audience. The informal boxing match was chiefly the work of Peruvian Lidia Chávez, twenty-six years old, and Bolivian Marlene Apaza, thirty-nine years old and a native of Copacabana, both of whom entered the ring for the first time in one set up for the occasion. Provided with gloves and helmets, they competed in an unusual fight of six three-minute rounds, directed by a referee with a “chullo” (an Andean cap with ear flaps) on his head. Another Peruvian “mamacha” took the name of “Quinua Bienpartida,” in honor of her compatriot, the current world female boxing champion, Kina Malpartida, and of the nutritious plant from the time of the Inca empire, consumed in Peru and Bolivia. During each pause in the fight, the focus of attention shifted to the boxers’ corners, where their assistants gave them soup to drink in order to restore their energy, such as ‘chairo’ from La Paz (sheep’s head soup), ‘patasca’ (cow’s head), and ‘carachama’ (fishhead). The bouts also served to promote typical items of clothing from the Bolivian and Peruvian highlands, which the boxers themselves produce and which were for sale at the fair where the fights were held. The stews they sampled were also part of a culinary fair at the fights’ location. Fights between “mamachas” are common in Bolivia, while in Peru it is entirely novel to see an indigenous woman in her typical full skirts get into the ring. Nevertheless, “mamachas” in Peru do play arena soccer: the second national championship of this sport was held in 2009, involving 40,000 peasant women from thirteen regions.