Puma’s catalog is rich and deep in iconic silhouettes. But only one can be crowned the brand’s best. Inside the company, nothing is more revered than the King.
“From a last point of view, a material point of view, a play point of view, the King was absolutely made to give the soccer player the best comfort, best feel for the ball, best fit,” said Björn Gulden, CEO of Puma. “There wasn’t any marketing or gimmick or motivation aside from making the best shoe.”
For these reasons, it was the favorite model of the GM of Puma Teamsport, Matthias Mecking, when he was a kid.
“Growing up in Germany and playing soccer in the ’80s , you had the choice between the King and the [Adidas] Copa Mundial,” Mecking said. “And the King, I felt, fit me better.”
But its performance attributes alone aren’t why the King, which debuted in 1968, reigns supreme. The shoe’s legend was bolstered by the stars of the pitch who laced them up.
“The best players in the world, the players that wore the number 10, players that really made the difference, wore the King,” explained Puma’s senior marketing advisor Helmut Fischer. “Pelé, Eusébio in the ’60s, Johan Cruyff from the ’70s, Diego Maradona — the very best [soccer] players in the world all wore the Puma King.”
Torsten Hochstetter, Puma’s global creative director, is still enamored with the icons of the sport who performed amazing athletic feats in them.
“When I’m in the archive and I’m holding the original shoe of players such as Johan Cruyff or Diego Maradona, that’s incredible. I have goose bumps. It’s very powerful,” Hochstetter said. “They wore the shoe and we all know the legacy of those athletes. Those cleats were one of the most important tools that they needed when they played.”
Aside from the King, Fisher — aka Mr. Puma — outlined the six other most important shoes in brand history.
“In 1952, we made the Super Atom, the first [soccer] boot Rudolf [Dassler] made with screw-in studs. It had the first Puma logo, combining the two stripes of the Dassler brothers as one. It also had the logo with the puma jumping into the D of the Dasslers.”
“When we introduced the Brush Spike, our athletes had a lot of wins before the 1968 Olympic Games. Adidas wanted to stop the shoe because they feared that athletes at the Olympic Games will wear the shoes and win medals. The shoes were banned.”
“Throughout the 1970s, [professional basketball hall of famer] Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier had these shoes on. They were made specifically for him with leather uppers so that he could wear them on the court during his games.”
“A milestone in Puma history is in 1985 when Boris Becker won Wimbledon, the youngest [men’s] tennis champion [at the time], with this shoe on. Later, this shoe became famous as a lifestyle icon as well. Kids liked to wear this shoe in the streets.”
Colin Jackson Disc
“We designed the Puma Disc system, which was meant for performance purposes. Colin Jackson became the 110-meter hurdle champion with a time of 12.91 in 1993 while wearing this revolutionary system.”
Usain Bolt World Record Shoe
“At the World Championships in Athletics from Berlin in 2009, Usain Bolt set the 9.58 record with these shoes. At that time, Adidas and the Olympic Federation argued that these kinds of spikes would damage the artificial course.”
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