Nigerian Chess Champ Tunde Onakoya Gets Hero’s Welcome After Record Marathon

Nigerian chess champion Tunde Onakoya received a hero's welcome home after setting a new world record 60-hour chess marathon in New York to raise $150,000 his Chess in Slums Africa charity.

1 min read
Nigerian Chess Champ Tunde Onakoya Gets Hero's Welcome After Record Marathon
Tunde Onakoya and Governor of Lagos State, Nigeria, Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Photo credit: X @@jidesanwoolu)

Nigerian chess champion Tunde Onakoya returned home to Lagos on Wednesday, greeted by singing, dancing and armed guards after setting a new world record for the longest chess marathon in New York City last week.

“I feel really proud of this moment, because I get to share it with so many people,” said the 29-year-old Onakoya, who played chess for 60 hours straight to raise $150,000 for children’s education across Africa.

Onakoya surpassed the previous record of 56 hours and 9 minutes, though Guinness World Records has yet to officially confirm the new mark. He played against American chess champion Shawn Martinez per Guinness’s rules requiring two continuous opponents.

At the airport, the returning hero was welcomed by parents, supporters and even one of his protégés – 20-year-old Ayomide Ojo Emmanuel.

“He found me under the bridge in Osodi, where I was homeless,” Emmanuel said. “I didn’t have anything, I didn’t have a life, I wasn’t ambitious. So, he gave me life.”

Onakoya founded his Chess in Slums Africa charity in 2018 aiming to educate 1 million underprivileged children through chess. His marathon was a mission to raise awareness.

“It maybe ‘just’ a chessboard to a lot of people, but that chessboard has provided Tunde Onakoya a platform to transform the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of children in Nigeria,” wrote one supporter online. “This is a good example to us all not to minimise our gifts or fail to engage our talents.”

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu praised Onakoya as embodying the city’s “resilient, ambitious, and driven to succeed” spirit.

As we celebrate his achievements, we’re inspired by his vision for empowering our children and youth. Together with Tunde and the transformative power of Chess, we’ll work towards a future where every child in Lagos has the opportunity to realize their full potential. The state proudly supports his mission, purposefully providing resources to fuel this noble cause now and in the future.,” the governor stated.

Leave a Reply