From Refugee To Chess Champion: This Nigerian Born Has Got The Headlines Once Again!

By Duchess Magazine

Nigerian chess champion Tanitoluwa Adewumi

Talent brings you before nobles and for this young champ, combined with skill, he’s amazingly rewriting his family’s story!

Nigerian born Chess Champion Tanitoluwa Adewumi and family

Ten year old Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a Nigerian refugee has just become a U.S National Chess Master. He proudly takes place as one of the youngest in the game.

The champ, simply known as “Tani” became the 28th youngest national chess master, according to the U.S. Chess Federation after winning the Fairfield County Chess Club Championship Tournament on May 1, belting four games in a row NPR reports.

The wins raised his chess ranking to 2223, surpassing the 2200 ranking needed for becoming a national chess master. He beat two chess experts, a master and an international master on his way to record the feat.

Chess Champion Tanitoluwa Adewumi


Tani together with his parents and older brother fled the country in 2017 due to terrorism by the militant sect, Boko Haram. Upon their arrival in New York, they lived in a homeless shelter. Tani discovered his love for chess while watching his big brother play, at school he began developing skill just about three years ago while still homeless, going to play for hours at the shelter.

In 2019, Tani made national headlines for winning the New York State chess championship for his age group, he was the first person to win the competition on first trial. Tani’s story was featured in The New York Times as well as being invited to the office of former U.S President Bill Clinton in Harlem.

Tani’s father had since set up a GoFundMe that raised over $250,000 to support housing, educational and legal resources for him. Now, thankfully, together with his family they have moved out of the shelter, NPR reports.

His father, Kayode Adewumi, and mother, Oluwatoyin Adewumi, are overwhelmed by their blessings:

“Life has changed tremendously,” Kayode said. “The gravity of what has happened is still going on. At times, when I look on Google, it’s like the news came out yesterday. After that year has gone, what God has done has continued. God has already changed our life completely for good.”

Chess Champion Tanitoluwa Adewumi


Tani isn’t done yet, he’s got even bigger goals: to become the world’s youngest grandmaster, so he practices chess over eight hours a day after school, he told ABC and NPR.

In addition to being a national chess master, Tani is also a published author. Published last year, his book, “My Name Is Tani … and I Believe in Miracles: The Amazing True Story of One Boy’s Journey from Refugee to Chess Champion.”

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