Tanitoluwa (Tani) Adewumi is a Nigerian-born chess player who lives in New York City, USA. He won the 2019 K-3 New York State chess championship at the age of eight, after playing the game for only a year, while living with his refugee family in a homeless shelter in Manhattan.
His teacher Shawn Martinez is a chess enthusiast who introduced him to the game. Tanitoluwa immediately took to it, and wanted to join a club run by Russell Makofsky, another teacher. Membership normally cost $330. Evidently impressed by his ability, Makofsky waived the fee. In early 2018, Adewumi played in his first tournament. A year later, he had accumulated seven trophies.
The teachers, now his coaches, set up a GoFundMe site shortly after the 2019 New York Scholastics, with the target of raising $50,000 for the family by crowdfunding. It raised $254,000 in ten days. Benefactors also offered non-monetary help including accommodation, a car, academic scholarships, chess books, and free assistance by immigration lawyers with their asylum application.
They accepted one of the more modest offers of accommodation but declined the scholarship offers out of loyalty to the school Tani was at. They gave one-tenth of the donated money as a tithe to the church which had helped them, and put the rest into the Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation to help other children in similar circumstances.
Three film companies competed for the rights to his story: Paramount Pictures won. An autobiography for young readers, My Name Is Tani, was published on 14 April 2020. An edition for adults with the same title was published on the same day.
A third book (confusingly with the same title) is due for publication on 17 September.