NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 2 – Ailing former Women’s International Boxing Federation (WIBF) Middleweight title holder Conjestina Achieng on Friday got a reprieve after Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko airlifted her to Nairobi for treatment.
Achieng famously known as the ‘Hands of Stone’ was in 2011 diagnosed with a psychiatric condition which has seen her on and off hospital for a while and earlier this week a video showing of her deteriorated health went viral, prompting Sonko to come to her rescue.
Sonko sent his Nairobi County Sports Board team led by former Harambee Stars captain Musa Otieno to pick Achieng from her rural home in Siaya County and bring her to Nairobi for treatment and later given a stable job.
“This morning my team is airlifting ailing veteran female boxer Congestina Achieng from her rural home in Siaya for treatment in Nairobi. I was touched by Congestina’s plight after a video of her current state went viral on the social media,” Sonko said on his official Facebook page on Friday morning.
“My team led by the Nairobi City County Government Sports Board is leading the mission to airlift the veteran boxer who brought pride to the nation by winning several international boxing titles. I’ll personally ensure Congestina is fully treated and rehabilitated, before she’s assisted to get a stable job to enable her become financially independent,” The Nairobi Governor assured.
Achieng, who propelled Kenya’s little-known female boxing sport to international glory after becoming the first African woman to hold an international title when she beat Ugandan Fiona Tugume to take the WIBF Middleweight Belt in 2004, has previously been treated at the Mathari Mental hospital from depression-related illness.
-Achieng’s boxing journey-
Achieng took to the ring in 2000 after graduating through the youth soccer ranks in Nairobi’s Makongeni Estate, inspired by her elder brother who was a member of the national boxing team.
After seven amateur bouts, she made her professional debut in 2002 in Nairobi, winning a four-round decision over Naomi Wanjiku who fell to 0-2.
In her second pro bout, also in Nairobi, she fought to a four-round draw with Damaris Muthoni of Nairobi before winning a four round decision over Uganda’s Jane Kavulani in May 2003.
Achieng won a knock-out victory over Uganda’s Fiona Tugume in October 2004 at Nyayo National Stadium as her fame began to blossom before she was beaten by Tanzania’s Monica Mwakasanga in Arusha in a six-round unanimous decision.
It was her fight against Tugume where she delivered her most famous bite, “Kujeni mapema na nitamaliza kazi mapema (come early and I will finish her early),” as fans thronged the stadium in their droves to witness her deliver the KO.
In December at the same stadium she won a ten-round unanimous decision over Tugume for the vacant GBU Middleweight title before she earned her revenge over Mwakasanga whom she floored in the fifth round in March 2005 where her opponent had to be taken to Kenyatta National Hospital for treatment.
She won her second global title when she once again sent the Tanzanian to the canvas in a scheduled ten round bout in August at the cathedral of Kenyan sport, the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani to bag the WIBF title.
That December, Argentina’s Guillermina Fernandez suffered a first round TKO as Achieng claimed the vacant WBF crown in what was labelled by even herself as a mismatch.
Zimbabwe’s Monalisa Sibanda was the next to fall in February 2006 on points before to the dismay of many of her Kenyan fans, Achieng lost her bid for the WBC title after being out-scored by American pugilist Yvonne Reis in April of that year.
Her fortunes plummeted in January 2011 when she was hospitalised at Nairobi’s Mathari Mental Hospital amid accusations she had sold all her properties, destroyed her tools of trade as well as isolating herself from family.
The then Sports Minister, Dr. Paul Otuoma pledged at the time that she would be assisted to get back to her feet, a promise that clearly was not followed through.
Later in the year 2012, an attempt to promote her comeback in her home city of Kisumu turned into a circus when she ran amok in the town, tearing all the posters erected to publicise the fight as she claimed promoters were conning her out of her due income.