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Humble Roots

ASICS was founded as Onitsuka Tiger back in the fall of 1949. Kihachiro Onitsuka started the company making footwear for school children in his hometown of Kyoto, Japan. The ASICS name came from an early encounter, but would not become official until years later. As the story goes, Onitsuka was discussing the new business venture with his friend, Kohei Hori. Hori told Onitsuka, “If you pray to God, you should pray for a sound mind in a sound body.” The saying, “Anima Sana in Corpore Sano," would become the inspiration behind Onitsuka’s desire to create shoes that foster the health of young people through sport, eventually resulting in the ASICS acronym.

Basketball Beginnings

In the 1950s, Onitsuka added basketball footwear to his offerings. At the time, basketball shoes were the most challenging footwear to make, and Onitsuka figured if he could master the most difficult, it would help him establish trust with his customers. It was on these shoes that the original Tiger logo first appeared. Like most of ASICS’ footwear designs today, improving technology was at the center of early Onitsuka Tiger shoe designs. After an epiphany while looking at an octopus during dinner, Onitsuka discovered that he was able to create shoes with more stopping power by creating a suction cup-like outsole design. The groundbreaking design used deeper dimples in the outsole than previous sneaker designs, setting the tone for the innovative thinking that continues to drive ASICS business today.

Running Toward The Future

Throughout the 1950s, Onitsuka Tiger would manufacture footwear for all types of sports, ranging from volleyball to ski boots. In 1959, the SUPER MARUP (shortened from Marathon Up), became one of the lightest running shoes ever created. A few years later, the Mexico 66 was released and helped Onitsuka Tiger become recognized worldwide. In 1976, Finnish Olympic legend Lasse Virén made the switch to the ASICS stripes and earned two gold medals, establishing Onitsuka Tiger as one of the premier running shoe makers in the world. Subsequently, in 1977 the brands under the Onitsuka umbrella were merged to form ASICS.

Driven By Innovation

ASICS continues to lead the footwear industry with innovative designs. Whether you’re looking for a premium cushioning system like ASICS’ GEL found in the Kayano and Nimbus or the retro model GEL-LYTE III, or a lightweight running shoe like the DynaFlyte or GT-1000 series featuring ASICS cloud-like FlyteFoam cushioning, ASICS’ technology-driven footwear designs are some of the most trusted running shoes available. That’s why you see runners returning to the updated models from ASICS, time and time again.

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