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Meet the 9-year-old chess prodigy who’s on his way to becoming a grandmaster

Tani has won awards, appeared on talk shows and in newspapers, and moved his family into a home.

For every successful person, there is always a story that needs to be told. Often, these are stories that motivate and inspire.

But while such success stories are very common now a days, to have a nine-year-old in such a category is very rare.

Tani Adewumi emerged winner of the 2019 New York State Scholastic Chess Championship. And he’s just nine.

As historic and inspiring as the feat was, it is the story of this chess prodigy that has endeared him to many.

Born in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, Tani and has family were forced to flee to the United States (US) following threats from the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Tired of running from village to village and with the terrorist group chasing them everywhere, Tani’s father, Kayode Adewumi, decided to relocate his family to the US.

Then just six years old, Tani was enrolled into a school in Manhattan. That was where his passion for chess emerged.

The school had one period per week, where coach Shawn Martinez taught the kids in a special chess class.

Monitoring all the kids take their first steps in chess, Martinez quickly realized that Tani was picking up fast.

He once asked the children to finish 50 puzzles of online chess matches but, at the end of the week, Tani came back to him with 500 puzzles.

“He was in love. It was like watching a flower sprout in front of my eyes,” his coach said, as quoted by ESPN.

Despite the prodigy’s progress in the game, life at home wasn’t easy as his parents were struggling financially.

Within their first 12 months in America, Tani and has family had to move six times, as they couldn’t afford an apartment.

They also couldn’t afford the fees charged by the chess club, but Martinez stepped in to ensure the fees were waived for Tani.

However, the boy’s successes in chess have since changed the life of his entire family. A few days after winning the New York championship in March 2019, he and his family moved into a new apartment.

Even more impressive, his background story and rise to a champion was published in the New York Times for Kids, earning him global acclaim.

After the story was read by millions of people, a GoFundMe page was created with the hope to raise an amount of $10,000 for Tani and his family to move them out of a shelter home, where they were staying at the time.

However, the donations exceeded their expectations. Within a few days, they made $100,000. Popular TV shows also wanted them for interviews.

First the NBC wanted them on the “Today” show, then an anonymous donor offered to pay a year’s rent for their new apartment. Another anonymous donor wanted to buy them a car.

The also raised $260,000, and then former US President Bill Clinton invite them to New York after hearing their story.

Tani and has family are seeking asylum in the US, although their request is pending and scheduled for a hearing in June.

The family has also established the Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation, a nonprofit organisation that helps immigrant families in need.

A movie is also set to be made from Tani and his family’s story, and will be overseen by Paramount and South African comedian Trevor Noah.

“This is all so strange, but it feels wonderfully great to have a movie made out of [my] life,” a proud Tani said. 

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