Eight-Year-Old Homeless Refugee Takes Chess World By Storm
Tani Adewumi has taken the chess world by storm.
As one of the country's newest and youngest chess champions, he's also being praised for his perseverance through incredible hardship.
"It's deep thinking, you have to like understand a lot of stuff," Adewumi said.
Last week, the third grader took down 73 of the best chess players in his age group in New York to win his division in the state championship, setting a record in the process.
"I was the first to win states... like my first states to ever go to and win it," Adewumi said.
"His intellect, his aptitude, his capacity to learn chess is off the charts," said Russell Makofsky, Adewumi's coach at his elementary school P.S. 116. He said Adewumi quickly shot to the top of the class.
"From not playing to beating the best of the best in one year is unheard of, all while living in a homeless shelter," Makofsky said.
You heard that right – Makofsky and his family are homeless. They fled northern Nigeria in 2017 fearing attacks by the terror group Boko Haram.
"I don't want to lose anyone of my loved ones," father Kayode Adewumi said.
Adewumi's parents have applied for asylum and said, even without a place to call their own, they will do anything to support their son.
"We are grateful to God for giving us the opportunity to put him in a school that he can see his goal and get his career," mother Oluwatoyin Adewumi said.
"I want to be the youngest grandmaster in the world and beat the world champion's record," Adewumi said.
A lofty goal for the 8-year-old refugee, but if you pause just for a second to doubt him? Well, he's already called checkmate.
"Anything is possible. God can – he can do anything for me. He can do anything for my family," Adewumi said.
As we were speaking to the family, an attorney called to let them know he would represent them in their asylum case pro bono. A GoFundMe for the family has raised more than $80,000. Adewumi now has his sights set on the elementary national championship this May.