Tanitoluwa Adewumi, an 8-year-old Nigerian boy, has beaten all odds and managed to conquer the world of chess after winning the New York State Chess Championship. Adewumi won the top prize in his age category at the New York game.
Tanitoluwa is first in the New York State Scholastic Championships tournament for kindergarten through third grade — a remarkable win for anyone.
“It’s unheard for any kid, let alone one in a homeless shelter,” Russell Makofsky, who oversees Manhattan’s P.S. 116 chess program, told USA TODAY.
His journey however, hasn’t been easy at all.
The young kid left his home in northern Nigeria with his family in 2017 due to the ongoing attacks by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. He moved with his family to the United States, but is currently living in a homeless shelter with his mother Oluwatoyin, father Kayode and older brother.
“I want to be the youngest grandmaster,” said in an interview.
While living in a homeless shelter and waiting on their asylum request to be accepted, the eight-year-old started attending the local elementary school, P.S. 116. There, he met a part-time chess teacher, teacher, Shawn Martinez, who taught his class how to play. Adewumi enjoyed the game so much he asked his mom, Oluwatoyin Adewumi, if he could join the chess club.
Seven trophies later, the elementary school boy is one of the top players in the country for his age group.
“He works very hard at his game,” Martinez said, estimating Tanitoluwa could achieve master status “in the next year or two.” The world’s youngest grandmaster qualified at the age of 12.
As Tanitoluwa’s story hits national headlines, more people want to help. Makofsky, who set up a GoFundMe for Tanitoluwa, said the family has received offers for a car, legal services, jobs and even housing.
“My hope is that he’ll be in a home tonight,” Makofsky said.