CHICAGO — To understand what drives a person to want to lock themselves in a cage and face a flurry of fists and kicks to the gut, you have to understand the blow that brought them there.
It was a dark moment 10 years ago that was ultimately the beginning of everything Marciea Allen is today. Encouraged by a friend to use her college athleticism to compete in the up-and-coming sport of Mixed Martial Arts fighting, Allen ventured into a fight club for women of sorts.
"I was homeless. Laid off from my first corporate job and didn't have any place to go. I've been at the bottom," Allen said. "I'm a firm believer that this is my calling in life. This is what I was meant to do."
Over the years, she won fight after fight, working her way to pro status. This last year she was even picked up by the show "Ultimate Fighter," which trains the best UFC fighters in the world. She was finding tons of success in the cage, but inside Allen knew there was still more.
"I wanted to inspire other women to find their own inner strength and reach their goals. It doesn't matter what your background is or where you came from...anything is possible," Allen said.
Allen and partner Brittany Welks opened a women's only gym in Schaumburg called Midwest Performance.
"That's the best part of this is our women here," Welks said. "For them to see two empowered women working together and being an example that you can do whatever you put your mind to."