Boxing legend Conjestina Achieng, 41, is fighting for her life after she was moved from Nairobi West Hospital to Lower Kabete and now Diani.
Conjestina’s condition has only gone from bad to worse, sources say.
“Conjestina is not doing well. Her situation is yet to improve. But all in all, we can only hope for the best,” a Nairobi official speaking on condition of anonymity said.
After a successful career that made her the darling of many Kenyans, ‘Conje’ has been bogged down by mental illness and financial problems since 2011.
She attacked her younger brother in Siaya in 2016, after escaping from rehab in Kisumu, grievously injuring him with a sharp object.
Media personality Daniel Ndambuki paid her rent in 2013, after news of her failing health and squalid living conditions in Buru Buru were publicised in 2012.
The latest celebrities to come to her aid are Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, through his rescue team, and BAK chairmanship aspirant Anthony Otieno, alias Jamal.
Another boxer in rehab, courtesy of the Sonko Rescue Team is Suleiman Bilali, a quarter-finalist at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. But he is faring on better than Conje.
The official said:
“It was noticeable Bilali had gained some weight and was looking very active when we visited him at Limuru Road rehab. The essence is to ensure the two boxers resume their normal lives in the society and ensure they are accepted to the sporting fraternity just as it was during their glory days.”
Bilali’s rehab images have elicited positive reactions from the boxing fraternity, including the Vice President of Kenya Professional Boxing Commission, George Adipo.
“This is the Bilali I knew when we both went for the Brunners Urafiki tournament some time back with the Hit Squad. He defeated a Ugandan boxer by the name Kizito in light flyweight. God bless the works of his hands. I’m looking forward to seeing him resume his normal life,” he said.
While Conjestina’s plight is largely mental, Bilali has had to contend with alcoholism at his Muthurwa backyard, better known in boxing circles as Dallas.
Dallas Muthurwa has produced some of Kenya’s most celebrated boxers, including former world champion Stephen Muchoki, Los Angeles 84 Olympics bronze medalist Ibrahim ‘Surf’ Bilali, the late David ‘Harish’ Ouma and Nasser Athumani. Muchoki is the only Kenyan world champion, a feat he achieved in the late 70s.
Former Kenyan international Duncan Kuria, aka ‘Sugar Ray’, who was among those who accompanied BAK chairmanship aspirant ‘amal’ Otieno on Bilali’s visit, said: “Bilali is in his second phase of recovery, and so far he is doing very well.”
Conjestina was airlifted from her Siaya home to Nairobi, where she underwent a medical checkup at the Nairobi West Hospital. She spent close to a week at the Nairobi West facility before being taken to Eden House Rehabilitation Centre in Kabete.
Initially, Conjestina appeared to make positive steps towards recovery at the Eden House, where she got admitted on November 9. But the current reports from her base in Diani indicate a relapse.
KPBC secretary Franklin Imbenzi confirmed that the boxer is in a bad state. Imbenzi said that
“I have talked to someone who has confirmed her deteriorating condition.
On behalf of the commission, I would like to thank Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and incoming BAK president Jamal Otieno for their timely intervention to make sure Conjestina recovery is on the right track, and we are putting up a proposal to the national government to launch a scheme for retired boxers to address the welfare of our former boxers and to initiate various activities to benefit them, as is the case in Europe and Asia.”