5'10" Kenyan middleweight Conjestina "Hands of Stone" Achieng was born in
Umiru in the Slaya District of Kenya.
Her passion for sports began at age 9 when she was a pupil at St. Jesus Primary
School in Yala.
“I loved ball games and also took part in
short races,” she says.
Conjestina 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. "Being a
boxer, he trained and nurtured me, taking me away from playing football to
boxing. I trained in boxing for one month, before I was able to face my
opponent in the amateur ranks. As an amateur, I once technically knocked out a
Ugandan opponent, Sharon Akinyi.”
After seven amateur bouts, "Conje" made her pro debut on June 8, 2002 in
Nairobi, winning a four-round decision over Naomi Wanjiku of Kenya who fell to
In her second pro bout, also in Nairobi, she fought to a four-round draw with
Damaris Muthoni of Nairobi, whose record was then 2--1-2 (1 KO).
In May 2003 in Nairobi she won a four-round decision over Jane Kavulani of
Uganda who fell to 2-2-0 (0 KO).
On December 13, 2003 at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi she fought to a
four-round draw with unbeaten Zarika Njeri, also of Nairobi, who was then 3-0-1
On August 28, 2004 at Jam Rescue 2 Club in Nairobi, Conjestina fought to a
four-round draw in a rematch with Jane Kavulani.
October 23, 2004 at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi Conjestina TKO'd Fiona
Tugume of Uganda in the seventh round of a scheduled eight-rounder. Achieng
consistently beat Fugume to the punch throughout this fight. Tugume fell to
4-1-1 (1 KO).
On November 15, 2004 at Triple A Hotel in Arusha, Tanzania, Conjestina lost a
six-round unanimous decision to Monica Mwakasanga of Tanzania who improved to
On December 19, 2004 at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi Conjestina won a
ten-round unanimous (100-97.100-91,100-92) decision over Fiona Tugume for the
vacant GBU Middleweight title. Tugume fell to 4-2-1 (1 KO) with the loss while
Achieng became the first African woman to win a professional boxing title.
On March 25, 2005 at Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi, Kenya Conjestina knocked
out Monica Mwakasanga of Tanzania midway through the fifth round of a scheduled
six-rounder, dropping Mwakasanga to 5-1-1. A right hook sent Mwakasanga crashing
to the canvas and the Tanzanian was rushed to Kenyatta National Hospital
for a check-up. Achieng spoke of the revenge factor for her only loss
prior to this bout, saying "I wanted to punish her first before putting her
On August 21, 2005 at Moi International Sport Centre, Nairobi, Kasarani, Kenya,
Conjestina TKO's Monica Mwakasanga in the ninth round of a scheduled ten-rounder
for the WIBF Middleweight title. Mwakasanga fell to 5-2-1.
On December 24, 2005 at Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi,
Kenya, Conjestina TKO'd Guillermina Fernandez of Argentina at 1:42 in the first
round of a mismatch for the vacant WBF Middleweight title. Fernandez backtracked
all the way and fell to 0-4 as her coach thrww in the towel after Fernandez took
a mandatory eight count following a knockdown and then was assailed by a flurry
On February 4, 2006 at Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi, Kenya 3000
spectators saw Conjestina win a hard-fought six-round unanimous decision over
Monalisa Sibanda of Lusaka, Zimbabwe.
On April 1, 2006 at Moi International Sports Centre in
Nairobi, Kenya, a partisan crowd of 3000 saw Yvonne Reis
of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida win a ten-round split decision over
Conjestina for the vacant WBC Middleweight title.
Achieng came out aggressively and kept Reis on the defensive in the opening
rounds, but from the fifth round onwards Reis began to assert her authority and
Achieng tired. The judges' scorecards read Alfred Buqwana 96-94 for Reis, Nemes
Kavishe 96-94 for Reis and Atta Eddie Pappoe 100-94 for Achieng. Yvonne
Reis, who was the first southpaw Achieng had faced, improved to 6-9-1
(0 KO) with this win while Achieng fell to 8-2-3 (4 KOs) with her first loss in
On August 5, 2006 at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi,
Conjestina (159 lbs) bounced back from her loss to Yvonne Reis with a six-round
unanimous decision over Florence Nalukwago (159¾ lbs) of Uganda.
For the third time in a row, Conjestina failed to
make good her now famous threat "Come Early coz I'll finish early" when
she had to slug it out for the whole six rounds against the heftily built
Ugandan. Conjestina, who had a reputation for knocking out her opponents, had
now failed to stop three in a row.
Achieng improved to 9-2-3 (4
Conjestina Achieng vs. Janaya Davis
© Copyrighted photo courtesy JabJab Productions
On December 2, 2006 at the Moi International Sport
Center in Nairobi, Kenya, Janaya Davis (164¼
lbs) of Atlanta, Georgia won a six-round (60-58,58-56,59-55) unanimous decision
over Conjestina (154¼ lbs) who fell to 9-3-3 (4 KO's) with her second
home loss to a visiting American. Janaya Davis improved her record to 5-2 (1 KO)
with the win. Achieng was slated to fight Texan Valerie Mahfood until a
few days before the fight, but Mahfood withdrew.
This was a disappointing outcome for Achieng, who had trained in Edison, New
Jersey since her fight with Yvonne Reis.
On January 20, 2007 at the Travellers Beach Hotel
in Mombasa, Kenya, Laura Ramsey (160 lbs) of Lake
Wales, Florida, USA TKO'd Conjestina (159¾ lbs) at 1:13 in the sixth round of a
scheduled 10-round GBU Middleweight title bout.
Kenyan news sources reported that Ramsey dominated
the fight from the beginning, and could have won it in the second round when she
sent Achieng into the ropes. In the sixth, she unleashed a heavy combination of
punches that saw a hapless Conjestina hit the canvas, gasping for breath, and
the referee stopped the fight at the five count.
Ramsey took the fight on short notice to fight
Achieng in her home turf when Kimberly Harris
canceled out after suffering an injury. Ramsey improved to 8-2-0 (4
KOs) while Achieng fell to
9-4-3 (4 KO's) with her third home loss to a visiting American.
On March 10, 2007 at Nyayo National Stadium in
Conjestina won a non-title fight by a 5th-round TKO of Tanzanian Monica
Mwakasanga. Mwakasanga suffered a deep cut on her left eyebrow that forced
the medics to advise the referee Shabaan Ogola to discontinue the fight. Achieng
in the first of three non-title fights she has to win to be considered for any
title challenges showed a different self when she comfortably switched to
southpaw stance to contain her opponent. Mwakasanga gave a good account of
herself despite suffering a second round knockdown. Mwakasanga kept her
form by avoiding skillfully Achieng's hard right throughout the rounds. The
Tanzanian left the ring bleeding profusely from a devastating hook from Achieng,
vowing to return to Kenya for another encounter against her old foe. Mwakasanga
fell to 3-4-1 (1 KOs)
On May 12, 2007 at Charter Hall in Nairobi, Kenya Conjestina won by a second
round KO over Jalala Salum in a scheduled eight round bout. WBAN had not
previously heard of Salum, who appeared to be making her debut. Local news
sources reported the following:
"There was disappointment as the non title fight which was expected to be a
thriller between Conjestina Achieng and Jalala Salum of Tanzania turned out to
be a mismatch. Achieng outclassed her opponent in all the department of the
game. The Tanzanian was worse than a novice boxer and it was hardly surprising
when she lost." Achieng advanced to 11-3-2 (6 KOs).
On July 14, 2007 at Moi International Sport Centre in Kasarani, Nairobi, Kenya,
Conjestina won a six-round bout by unanimous (60-54,60-54,60-55)
decision over Emily Kabwalo. Achieng improved to 12-4-2 (6 KOs) while
Kawalo fell to 0-1-0 (0 KOs).
On December 12, 2008 at Charter Hall in Nairobi, Conjestina won a six-round
majority (58-58,60-56,57-55) decision over Charity Mukami of Nairobi, who fell
to 1-1 with the loss.
On April 13, 2008 at Club Afrique in Nairobi, Conjestina (159¾ lbs) TKO'd
winless Patroba Lihavi of Eldoret, Kenya in the third round of a scheduled
six-rounder. Lihavi fell to 0-3 with the loss.
On July 11, 2008 at
in Cuxhaven, Germany
Natascha Ragosina (168 lbs) of Magdeburg, Germany
won by a 10-round unanimous (97-93,96-94,97-93) decision over Conjestina (167½
lbs) for the WIBF and GBU Super Middleweight titles. WBAN correspondent Ewan
Whyte wrote: "She came dressed as Supergirl but it would be a
lie to say Natascha Ragosina fought like a girl. She didn’t fight at all. She
‘boxed’ (we are told), which meant trying to keep the challenger at arm’s length
(further still, if possible) for twenty short minutes while the clock ran down.
She didn’t even make a very good job of that, it has to be said; Achieng
cornered her on quite a few occasions with surprising ease, and when she did,
she landed some quite good punches. Ragosina neither landed nor even threw
anything all night that would have smudged your granny’s make-up, yet according
to the promoter, Ulf Steinforth, the decision in her favor was correct. What we
saw tonight, he told us, was 'a class boxer against a fighter'". Ragosina
advanced to 18-0 (11 KO's) with the win.
On November 28, 2008 at the
Maritim Hotel in Magdeburg, Germany,
(165½ lbs) of Germany won a second 10-round unanimous (97-93,99-91,98-92)
decision over Conjestina (161¾ lbs) defending her WIBF and WBA Super
Middleweight titles. Erik Schmidt of BoxingNews24.com
that "All in all, it was really terrible boxing to watch.
Ragosina fought as if she were on a set of tall stilts, never bending her knees
and walking stiff-legged around the ring. In rounds eight through ten, Achieng
continued pressuring Ragosina constantly, landing the much harder shots and
giving her a lot of problems. Ragosina never changed her game during these
rounds, continuing to jab weakly, bend backwards to prevent getting hit and
clinching constantly. At some point, the referee should have taken points away
from her because she looked to be trying to run out the clock in the fight.
Because of that, I couldn’t give her any of the last three rounds and had
Achieng easily winning in the end." Ragosina advanced to 19-0 (11 KO's)
even as the decision was booed by the German crowd.
On February 28, 2009 at Hotel Casuarina in Nairobi, Conjestina won a six-round
unanimous (59-54,59-55,60-57) decision over her perennial rival
Charity Mukami of Nairobi.
According to reporter Erick Ochieng: "Achieng, who
lived up to her earlier promise of causing havoc in the ring, took the match
head on from the start. The boxers, who were unsettled at the start of the
fight, ducked forth and back in the first round. Achieng then opened floodgates
of punches on her rival’s left temple to break the deadlock towards the end of
round one, with agitated spectators fearing she would knockout Mukami in the
second round, only to slow down in the second. 'I resolved to make the fight a
training session rather than to go for my traditional KO', said Achieng. 'From
the jabs I threw in the first round, I realised the duel was not going to be a
furious one and so I decided to tone down.' But Mukami struck back furiously in
the third round to defend herself from being turned into a punching bag.
However, this only called for more torture from Conje who caught her off guard
with vicious punches. Though Conje dominated, it was Mukami who kept fans at the
edge of their seats with her resilient nature even though it was apparent she
was losing. Achieng, who appeared rejuvenated and kept changing tactics and
solidified her lead with heavy punches in the last round, which left her
opponent gasping for breath and short of tricks."
Mukami fell to 4-2 (0 KO's).
May 8, 2009 at the Royal Event Center in Berlin, Germany,
Conjestina Achieng fought to a 10-round draw (95-95,97-95,96-97)
with Maria Lindberg of Malmo, Sweden for the
vacant WIBF Middleweight title.
According to a
Per Ake Persson, it was a fast paced, not very clean fight in which Lindberg
pressed the action and Achieng countered,
but few telling punches were landed.
Lindberg is now 2-0-2 as a pro boxer,
while Achieng progressed to
15-6-5 (7 KO's).
Lindberg is the 1998 Swedish amateur 71-kg champion who was suspended from
boxing competition after an injury in 1999 but returned in 2003 to fight
otherwise unemployed, Achieng, who normally earns about $250 a fight, relies on
boxing to pay for her one rented room in Nairobi's teeming, litter-strewn
Mathare North estate. Her greatest challenge may be to finance her training and
maintain a well-balanced diet. In a country where many survive on less than $1 a
day, Achieng struggles to put food on the table and meet her basic needs.
Government support for training facilities and equipment is limited and reliable
boxing promoters are rare, so prize money is hard to come by.
“I earn a living the hard way", she
can't afford the right foods and sometimes I don't even have the bus fare to go
for training. When I look at other
boxers like Mike Tyson and Laila Ali, my soul bleeds. They are rich and the kind
of life they lead is not comparable to ours. But us we lead a dog's life. Things
don’t fall on a silver plate. Every individual has to reap where he or she has
sown and I am no exception.”
Kenya, boxing is not well paying as people may think. I don’t have a permanent
salary and I’m only paid when there is a fight and if I have won. Boxing
is hard and should be treated with the seriousness it deserves. One has to be
committed and train hard.
“I have a son and younger sisters who are
still in school, and all of them depend on me. My aging parents can no longer
afford to cater for these people and I’m left in charge,” she adds.
Achieng's day begins at 5.30 a.m. with 15 km of road work, then at 8.30 am the
resumes her normal gym training till midday.
"I enjoy boxing in the company of male boxers", says Achieng. "We
train and share ideas."
In any spare time she volunteers at a nearby school assisting children through
their assignments and marking their books. The school's owner, Jean Ikenga has
always supported Achieng and soetimes pays her rent.
When Conjestina was in school she excelled in arts and crafts, and still pursues
drawing and painting. Some of her work is displayed at Upendo Nursery in Mathare
North. She says that one of her aims is to nurture young and aspiring
She also wants to fight Laila Ali.
“I am training hard and hope to face her in the ring. She does not sound a
threat to me and I long to fight her. I will decide on whether to continue
boxing or stop only after I snatch that title from her.” Her
promoter Caleb Kuya, a Danish-based Kenyan, is equally confident but says "Conje"
needs at least three more fights under her belt before she faces Ali, especially
as she has boxed professionally only once outside Kenya. "She will be much
better if she fights out of the country to get the feel of away matches and even
jeering from other fans," he says as he outlines plans for seeking
sponsorships for a potential Achieng vs. Ali showdown.
Conjestina is the fifth born in a family of ten. She believes she inherits her
boxing skills from her maternal uncles, who were boxers. Her elder brother,
Joseph Kusimba is also an ex-boxer who runs a boxing club in Mathare. Her father
Clement Adalo, a retired medical officer, strongly supports her boxing career
and ferries fans from her native Slaya District to cheer her on when she fights
in Nairobi but her mother Gertrude Auma does not care to watch live boxing.
She has a son, Chartone Otieno, who she says is "too polite and qualifies to
become pastor". But he loves sports, so she does not rule out that he will
one day become a boxer in his turn.
Other Conjestina Achieng links
To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge
digital photos you can go to the
WBAN Records Member Site
Page last updated:
Saturday, 15 December 2012