The former World Boxing Association middleweight champion Congestina Achieng is set to transition from a ring fighter to the gym instructor following her completion of rehabilitation program at the Mombasa Women Empowerment Network Hospital in Miritini.
Speaking on Monday in Mombasa, former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko who has been supporting her recovery journey since 2018 said the legendary Kenyan pugilist will also be in charge of security at Salama Bling Beach resort, Kanamai.
“As Conje embarks on this new chapter of her life, she carries with her the hopes and dreams of young upcoming boxers. Her story serves as a reminder that everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves, regardless of their past or present circumstances. Conje will be the gym instructor and head security at Salama Bling Beach resort, Kanamai. Together with her sister,coach and son, we inspected the hotel that she’ll be working at and they all agreed. She will now be making a living inorder to support her family.” noted the flamboyant politician.
In March this year,Sonko had disclosed his plans of opening a training centre to be headed by the ex boxing champion nicknamed during her heydays as “Hands of Stone”.
The retired boxer was to serve as the head trainer in all the gyms in his establishments, which include Salama Bling Beach Resort and Kimeremeta Safari Lodge among others.
He however insists Congestina will not go back upcountry unless it is under emergency and she is in the company of strict supervisors watching over her.
“My initial plan for conje after healing was to employ her as the Head of security operations at the international Club Volume but changed my mind after thinking through what she has gone through before on drug and substance abuse. I don’t want her around any environment associated with drugs.We have also agreed with them they won’t go back to Siaya unless it’s too necessary and are being accompanied by our supervisors.”added his statement
The 45 year old who became the first African woman to hold an international title when she beat Ugandan Fiona Tugume to take the vacant Women International Boxing Champion (WIBF) Middleweight title suffered from mental illness since 2011 when she was diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder.
Five years ago,Sonko airlifted Conjestina from her rural home in Siaya to Nairobi for treatment after her video in a sorry state went viral with many Kenyans pleading for help from well-wishers,in the wake of National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) committing to take the boxing legend to the best facility in Kenya.
“She is among the patriotic Kenyans who made us proud, therefore, we shall not sit down and watch her suffer. We have taken up her case and we hope she will regain her health,” Sonko explained.
The mother of one who propelled Kenya’s little-known female boxing sport to international acclaim years ago had previously been treated from depression-related illness in several facilities including Mathare Mental hospital.
Congestina’s mother, Getrude Adala has thanked Sonko for standing by her daughter who on Sunday exhibited good health and fitness levels after appearing in the same ring together with World Boxing Council (WBC) super bantamweight champion Fatuma Zarika.
“I thank Governor Sonko for always being there for Conge and not tiring to hold her hands whenever she backslided.It was sad seeing her live a miserable life because of her condition despite having brought glory back home in her prime days” she jubilantly stated
She has maintained of competitively making a comeback to the ring to reclaim WIBF middleweight title being held by Slovenian professional Ema Kozin.
“Like Mohamed Ali who went ahead to prove he was indeed the rightful ruler of the heavyweight. I’ll be back.I cannot lose my title I won in the ring by a Knock Out at a rehab centre. It has to be in the ring!” she remarked authoritatively