PUMA is a German athletic shoe and apparel brand founded in 1948 by Rudolf Dassler. His interest in athletic footwear production began with his return from World War I. The Dassler Brothers began manufacturing shoes from their mother's laundry business. The shoes were first used in an Olympics event in 1928, and were the first athletic shoes to feature studs and spikes. Women's 800M competitor Lina Radke-Batschauer was the first athlete to win a gold medal in the shoes. In 1936, the Dassler brothers drove samples to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, where they persuaded American athlete Jesse Owens to try to the shoes. This represented, in essence, the first athletic sponsorship of an African-American athlete. Owens' four gold medals from the 1936 Olympics greatly improved the company's reputation, and athletes around the world were requesting a pair of the Dassler Brothers shoes.
The Dassler brothers had a falling out after World War II . Adolph and Rudolf dissolved the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory and parted ways, each going on to form rival shoe companies. Brother Adolph founded athletic shoe company Adidas, also based in Herzogenaurach, where Rudolf Dassler registered the company name as "Ruda" (a hybrid of his first and last names), but the company's name was changed to Puma in 1949.
The original logo featured a puma leaping through the letter "D." Puma shoes and apparel today feature a distinctive mark known as the "Form stripe," which was introduced in 1958.
The company's initial focus was on football shoes, and the first football boot, "Atom," was produced in 1948. The company's first boot to feature screw-in studs was 1952's "Super Atom." Athletes furthered the brand's reputation by wearing Puma shoes while earning notable athletic achievements. The first post-war football goal for West Germany was wearing Puma boots. Puma's first Olympic victory came in 1952, when the men's 1500m winner, Josy Barthel of Luxembourg, sported Pumas as he crossed the finish line.
Pele wore Puma shoes in his 1962 World Cup game, early in his career. The 1970 FIFA World Cup set back a potential reconciliation between the Dassler brothers and their respective rival companies. Both had agreed not to sponsor soccer champion Pele, but Puma negotiated a secret deal that resulted in Pele wearing the shoes in the final match before millions of television viewers.
Puma's King football boot is legendary, having been worn by many World Cup players. A special 40th anniversary edition of the Puma King, called King XL, was produced in 2008. Puma also produced shoes and apparel for Olympic runners such as Usain Bolt, and notable tennis athletes like Boris Becker and Martina Navratilova.
Rudolf Dassler passed away in 1974, and the company remained under the direction of his sons Armin and Gerd. Puma became a publicly-traded company in 1986, and in 1989, a majority share was purchased by a Swiss businessman.
In 2007, French luxury goods corporation PPR acquired the majority share of Puma.
Puma Fragrances are produced in conjunction with Procter & Gamble. The fragrances for men and women often have a sporty theme and packaging and are frequently advertised or endorsed by professional athletes.