An 8-year-old homeless refugee won the New York State Primary Chess Championship in his age group on March 10. Tanitoluwa Adewumi went undefeated at the championship where he competed against 73 other children in grades kindergarten through third. According to his chess coach, Russell Makofsky, he learned how to play chess just one year before his big win.
“His intellect, his aptitude, his capacity to learn chess is off the charts,” Makofsky said. “From not playing to beating the best of the best in one year is unheard of, all while living in a homeless shelter.”
According to USA Today, Tanitoluwa’s road to victory has not been easy. Before winning the competition, the young champion spent the past two years living in a homeless shelter after fleeing northern Nigeria in 2017 for fear of attacks on Christians by the terror group Boko Haram. But his determination could not be stifled.
On the floor of the shelter, Tanitoluwa would spend hours a day practicing chess. Fortunately, all his hard work paid off as he gained much more than a trophy as a result of winning the tournament.
After Tanitoluwa made headlines for his triumph, Makofsky started a GoFundMe to help him and his family find a home. Within a few days, the initial goal of raising $50,000 was quickly surpassed. By day three, over $180,000 was donated to help support the family.
Thanks to the enormous amount of crowdfunding, the family now has a home of their own – they are currently living in a new apartment in Manhattan.
“It’s a wonderful day, because God made it happen,” Tani’s dad Kayode Adewumi told News 4.
Tanitoluwa will continue to participate in chess competitions in the future, including the national championship in May. His current dream is to become the youngest grandmaster in the world.
“Anything is possible,” Tanitoluwa said. “God can – he can do anything for me. He can do anything for my family.”