8-year-old Homeless Nigerian Refugee Crowned Chess Champion in New York

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An 8-year-old Nigerian refugee has just been crowned a chess champion in New York’s statewide competition.

Tanitoluwa Adewumi, who lives in a Manhattan homeless shelter with his family, won the kindergartener through third grade category in New York’s chess championship last weekend with an undefeated performance, according to New York Times.

Tanitoluwa, known as “Tani,” learned to play chess just one year ago, and now says that he wants to be “the youngest grandmaster.”

The Adewumis, including Tani, his parents and older brother, reportedly arrived in New York after fleeing Nigeria in 2017 due to fear of terror attacks from the group Boko Haram.

Tani learned chess with his classmates at New York’s P.S. 116, and joined the school’s chess club. The club’s organiser waived the fees for Tani because of his family’s financial situation. Though he started out as the lowest-rated member of the club, he quickly improved and is now bringing his school statewide recognition, according to New York Times.

P.S. 116’s principal, Jane Hsu, told the Times that Tani’s win is “an inspiring example of how life’s challenges do not define a person,” and credited the third-grader’s supportive parents despite being homeless.

Tanitoluwa Adewumi won the state tournament for kindergarten through third grade last weekend. He is pictured with his trophy

Tani, as he is known to family and friends, plays chess at the elementary school he attends and practices every night in the shelter.

His father Kayode drives for Uber and is also a real estate broker.

The family moved to the US to escape Boko Haram, a terrorist group responsible for atrocious attacks against Africans.

Because they are devout Christians, they feared they would be targeted.

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Tani and his siblings became enrolled in local elementary schools not long after they arrived and he discovered the chess club.

His mother Oluwatoyin emailed them to say that while they could not afford to pay the fees attached, he was eager to participate.


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