Jen Palaszewski, a 24-year-old massage therapist from McHenry, said she started working out at in about six years ago.
It's here Jen found a husband and a sparring partner.
Her husband is Bart Palaszewski, a UFC fighter who is taking on Hatsu Hioki Feb. 26 in Saltama, Japan; her friend and sparring partner is Kayla Lardy, a 20-year-old student at McHenry County College.
Jen and Kayla, neither of whom have had a fight, just started sparring recently. Kayla said their midday workout session Saturday (at Team Curran MMA, at its new location 110 W. Woodstock St., Crystal Lake) was only the third time she had been in the ring to spar.
The Chicago Golden Gloves boxing tournament starts in March.
Jen spends a lot of time at the gym anyway with her husband. Signing up for the prestigious boxing tournament is almost a second thought.
“I thought I’d give it a shot,” Jen said.
Kayla, on the other hand, is very serious about the Golden Gloves and is a natural in the ring. She looks like a seasoned fighter.
“I’ve always wanted to fight,” Kayla said. "I've always liked boxing."
She was a gymnast and used to play soccer.
“Kayla is like one of those tough city girls you see every so often in the Golden Gloves,” said Doug Mango, head coach of the . “Kayla is naturally aggressive.”
After sparring with Jen a few rounds, Kayla went a few more with Phil Williams, a tough cage fighter.
“She hits hard for a girl,” Williams said.