26 March 1898|
Herzogenaurach, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
|Died||27 October 1974
Herzogenaurach, West Germany
|Occupation||Founder of Puma|
Rudolf "Rudi" Dassler (26 March 1898 in Herzogenaurach, Germany – 27 October 1974 in Herzogenaurach) was the German founder of the sportswear company Puma and the older brother of Adidas founder, Adolf "Adi" Dassler. The brothers were partners in a shoe company Adi started, Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory). Rudi joined in 1924, however the brothers became rivals following World War II and started their own companies in 1948.
Initially calling the new company "Ruda" (Rudolf Dassler), it was soon changed to its present name of Puma. Puma is the native Quechua word for cougar, from there it went into German as well as other languages, such as Spanish, French, Russian, Romanian, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Czech, Bulgarian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Bosnian Croatian, Serbian, Slovene and Hungarian.
Adolf Dassler, Rudolf's younger brother, started to produce sports shoes in his mother's kitchen after his return from World War I. His father, Christoph, who worked in a shoe factory, and the brothers Zehlein, who produced the handmade spikes for track shoes in their blacksmith's shop, supported Adolf in starting his own business. In 1924, Rudolf joined the business, which became the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory). Rudolf was affectionately known as 'Bobby' because this was the only sound that he could make for the first three years of his life.
During the war, a growing rift between the pair reached a breaking point after an Allied bomb attack in 1943 when Adi and his wife climbed into a bomb shelter that Rudolf and his family were already in: "The dirty bastards are back again," Adi said, apparently referring to the Allied war planes, but Rudolf was convinced his brother meant him and his family. Rudolf, upon his capture by American troops, was suspected of being a member of the SS, information supposedly supplied by Adolf.
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