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Meet Tunde Onakoya: The Chess Master and New Guinness World Record Holder

Meet Tunde Onakoya: The Chess Master and New Guinness World Record Holder

Tunde Onakoya, a name that resonates with resilience and determination, has etched his mark on the global chess stage. 

Born on October 6, 1994, in the bustling city of Ikorodu, Lagos, Onakoya’s journey from the slums to becoming a chess master is nothing short of inspiring.

From Slums to Chessboard: Tunde Onakoya Journey

Growing up amidst the narrow alleys and makeshift homes of Ikorodu, Onakoya discovered chess in an unlikely place – a humble barber’s shop. 

The wooden chessboard, its pieces worn by countless battles, became his refuge. 

As he moved the knights, bishops, and pawns across the squares, he found solace and purpose.

But life in the slums was unforgiving. Primary education remained a distant dream for young Onakoya. 

At the tender age of 10, he faced a crossroads: continue struggling within a broken system or forge his own path. 

Determined to survive, he left formal schooling behind and embarked on a different kind of education – one that unfolded on the 64 squares of the chessboard.

Chess as a Beacon of Hope for Tunde Onakoya

Chess became more than a game; it became Onakoya’s lifeline. 

Through sheer determination, he honed his skills, competing against opponents who underestimated the quiet boy from Ikorodu. 

His passion caught the attention of mentors who recognized his potential. 

Scholarships followed, leading him to Yaba College of Technology, where he pursued a diploma in computer science.

At Yaba, Onakoya’s brilliance shone. He clinched gold medals at the Nigeria Polytechnic Games and the RCCG Chess Championship. 

But beyond the accolades, chess gave him something profound – an identity. It transformed him into an intellectual, a thinker who believed in his place in the world.

Chess in Slums Africa: A Vision Takes Shape

In September 2018, Onakoya founded Chess in Slums Africa, a non-profit organization fueled by his unwavering commitment. 

His mission? To empower children in impoverished communities through chess. 

For Onakoya, poverty wasn’t just about lacking money; it was about being cut off from access – to education, justice, and opportunity.

“I want to be who I needed when I was young,” Onakoya declares. 

His organization reaches the forgotten corners of Lagos state – from Majidun to Makoko and now Oshodi. 

Volunteers gather in dusty courtyards, introducing chess to wide-eyed children. 

The chessboard becomes a gateway – a bridge to education, critical thinking, and hope.

A World Record and Beyond

Recently, Onakoya achieved a feat that transcends chess itself. Alongside US chess master Shawn Martinez, he embarked on a 60-hour chess marathon in the heart of New York’s Times Square. 

Their goal? Not just victory, but a million-dollar promise – to educate children across Africa’s underprivileged communities.

As the Guinness World Record clock ticked, Onakoya’s moves echoed resilience, determination, and a vision of change. 

The chess pieces danced, weaving a narrative of possibility. And in those 60 hours, they shattered barriers, proving that a pawn can become a king, even beyond the board.

Tunde Onakoya – a name etched in history, a knight who fights for education, and a rook who defends dreams. 

His legacy extends far beyond checkmates; it’s a testament to the power of chess to transform lives.


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