The crowd rages in the stands of the arena as their wrestling idols fight a fight as violent as it is peculiar: three warriors face off, bare-knuckled and bare-knuckled, against three much larger masked men in a heart-stopping “War of the Sexes.”
Between punches and flying kicks, this battle seems the personification of gender problems in Mexico, where machismo forces women to continue fighting for social parity while thousands are murdered and raped each year.
“Fucking old woman, go to the kitchen and fuck your mother!” Is heard from the platform – where there are children and the elderly – while the fighter Brillo de Luna, wearing a sequined leotard and high boots, paralyzes with a left hook a Nazi Warrior, his adversary.
Far from being outraged, Brillo de Luna finds it “very nice” that the male audience insults her in this sporting-choreographic combat, where, according to the protagonists, victories are not predetermined.
“It means that you are doing your job well, you are de-stressing them, you are provoking them, because they are feeling the adrenaline of wanting to hit you and they take out their frustration by yelling at you”, instead of humiliating or hitting their wives when they return home, he explains to AFP This 42-year-old athlete has been fighting since she was 15.
This mother of three boys, and one of the few fighters who fights without a mask to “show Mexican beauty,” is excited to participate in the so-called mixed struggles – allowed some 20 years ago – because they represent the “power struggle.”
“We want to show the public and them that we can too, that not only they and their strength, but we and all the skills we have, can carry out a fight and give them up,” says this warrior who has almost 70 victories against men.
– “Not everyone is a fighter” –
Brillo de Luna fights shoulder to shoulder with Suástica, who wears the cross embroidered on her leotard, and Melisa, with long curly hair. Three times a week she trains with her teammates Princess Legna and Lilly Star.
All have faced criticism, sometimes from their own family, for engaging in a sport considered “masculine”.
“In a poster of struggle, there are four (spaces) for men and one for women”, laments Princess Legna, behind her turquoise mask.
There are almost never changing rooms for women, “you have to be changing in front of them,” he says. “Just by looking at you, you yourself feel harassed.”
Mistreating women “is fine, but not much,” says the Nazi Guerrero joker, before facing off in the ring against his own mother, Suastica.
This fighter who chose his name “because it sounds scary” and not for ideological reasons, claims to be “less rude” when fighting with women.
But female warriors bear the scars of combat: bruises on their arms, scratches on their legs, bruises on their back.
“It feels ugly” to see his wife hurt, but “it’s his job, it’s part of what he has to pay to do what he likes,” says Gabriel Martínez, husband and coach of Brillo de Luna.
“Not everyone is a fighter woman,” she replies proudly.
Martínez is also a fighter, but he can’t stand that a man hit his wife: “That’s why most of the time I prefer not to see her.”
This does not stop the powerful Moonlight that, bathed in sweat and growling, pushes itself from the ropes to take down the burly Clown Pambacín.
– More than a bachelor’s degree –
From a young age, Brillo de Luna sought “something else” than taking care of the home and has a rare luck in Mexico: not only does she have a feminist husband, but her father unconditionally supported her in her sport.
The fight “is the career my dad gave me. He paid for a gym, bought me tennis shoes (sports shoes). It always gave her a lot of pride, “she says in a gym located in a dangerous neighborhood in the central State of Mexico, a hotbed of femicides.
In a country where girls do not always have access to education, Brillo de Luna only studied until high school. But she assures that being a fighter gives her “recognition unlike any other undergraduate.”
«Being a fighter gives me a plus because we are recognized. If you take a picture with a fighter, your family is going to say ‘wow, you know her, you hugged her!’
The petite Lilly Star, 28, who divides her time between struggle and motherhood, admits that in the ring she feels “happy because people applaud and admire you.”
– Does it promote violence? –
As a coach, Martínez assures that the fight helps women “to face their fears and their own husband who has them oppressed.”
According to him, several of his students have come to training with blows they received at home. The fight “raises their self-esteem” and allows them to repel and even respond to blows, he says.
“Violence is not a pride, it is a pride that women give themselves their place and put these misogynist people in the place they deserve,” he says.
But Tania la Guerrillera, a white-haired fighter with 41 years of experience, considers it “disastrous” to promote mixed struggles.
“If we are trying to eradicate violence against men against women, what message do we give the public when we confront men against women of different categories, of different weight?”
Brillo de Luna, along with Melisa and Suástica, knew how to endure elbows, shoves, whipping and hair pulling, until they achieved a forceful blow to the Nazi Warrior’s stomach that proclaimed them the winners of this «War of the Sexes».
While the masked man struggles to digest his defeat, the rostrum rages with shouts of joy and fury.