Brothers Divided: The Astonishing Origin Story of Puma and Adidas

Sibling rivalries have existed since the dawn of time and rarely lead to anything good, but every now and then, a clash or disagreement between family members can actually cause something incredible to happen, like the founding of two of the world’s biggest and most successful shoe and sportswear companies.

Believe it or not, Adidas and Puma, two names that are immediately recognizable all over the world and have dominated the sports shoe and activewear industries for decades, were only founded thanks to two brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler, having a big falling out many years ago.

Before all that, the pair had worked together, owning and operating a shared family shoe company and living in perfect harmony. However, a huge family divide separated Adolf and Rudolf, leading to both of them going their separate ways and forming their own individual shoe brands.

Their story is an incredible example of how big things can come from the smallest and most innocuous of scenarios. A simple argument between brothers truly changed the sporting world, leading to the creation of two true behemoths of the shoe industry, boosting the German economy, creating countless jobs, and having all sorts of other consequences. This is how it all happened.

Humble Beginnings for the Brothers

Our story begins with the Dassler family. Rudolf Dassler was born on 26 March 1898, while his younger brother Adolf Dassler, who was always nicknamed ‘Adi,’ was born on November 3 of 1900. Adi and Rudolf also had another brother named Fritz and a sister called Marie.

Humble Beginnings for the Brothers

on the right Rudolf Dassler. On the left Adolf Dassler. Source: Facebook

The pair were born and raised in the town of Herzogenaurach, which was a very small town at the time with a population of around 3,500. Herzogenaurach is not far from the city of Nuremberg. The boys were born to parents Christoph and Paulina, and the whole family was quite poor.

Talent Runs in the Family

The Dassler family had always worked as weavers and dyers, but Christoph, who was struggling financially with his current work, decided to try something different. The local textile industry was falling apart at the time, and he needed to seek out a new profession to try and support his family, so he turned his hand to cobbling.

Talent Runs in the Family

Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

He learned all of the skills needed to start making shoes and worked long hours to become highly proficient, being rewarded for his efforts with a job at a local factory, where he was in charge of making felt slippers.

The Boys Start Working from an Early Age

Back in those days, it wasn’t uncommon for young children to be given little jobs to do to bring some money into the family, and that’s exactly what happened with Rudolf and Adi. Their mother, Paulina, decided to set up a laundry service and needed her boys to help out.

The Boys Start Working from an Early Age

Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler. Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Paulina would wash the clothes and other items in the back of the family home and then load it up for the boys to go out and deliver around town. The youngsters became known as “laundry boys.” Their brother Fritz also helped out with deliveries, while their sister Marie aided in the washing.

Adi Takes an Interest in Athletics

Adi Dassler was getting older and needed to settle on a career choice to support himself and his family. After finishing his schooling, he worked as a baker’s apprentice for a while, but really had no interest in that kind of work at all. In his free time, he had developed a major interest in sports and athletics.

Adi Takes an Interest in Athletics

West Germany equipment manager Adolf Dassler (r) restuds the boots of goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski. Photo by PA Images via Getty Images.

He and his best friend would spend lots of their time running and playing various sports like soccer and ice hockey. He even used to make some of their sporting equipment from objects he found lying around, triggering an interest in producing sporting goods.

The First World War

In 1914, all of the Dassler boys except Adi were conscripted and sent off to fight for the German Army, leaving Adi at home as he was too young to be in the military at the time. It was around this time that he officially decided against becoming a baker.

The First World War

Photo by Brauner/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Instead, he took an interest in the shoe business his father had chosen as a career and asked his dad to teach him a few things. He learned a lot about stitching and cobbling techniques during this time until he was also conscripted for the final days of the war in 1918.

An Amazing Idea

While he’d been working with his dad and learning all about shoes, Adi learned something very important: he discovered that different shapes and styles of shoes could actually enhance an athlete’s performance, giving them an edge over the competition.

An Amazing Idea

The founder of the German sportswear company Adidas, Adolf Dassler, is pictured in his office in Herzogenaurach in the year 1975. Photo by Karl Schnoerrer/picture alliance via Getty Images

He started to develop his own idea from this discovery: what if specialized shoes were made for individual sports, with each one designed for a specific activity and offering increased performance to the players and athletes? It was a new idea at the time, and it would form a big part of his and his brother’s later success.

After the War

When he and his brothers got home from the war, Adi saw that the family’s hometown had changed a lot. The war had had a disastrous effect on the local economy, with Paulina having to close down her laundry business. Now, more than ever, it was vital for the boys to go out and find work to start supporting the family.

After the War

Former German football stars (L-R) Uwe Seeler, Horst Eckel and Andreas Brehme pose for photographers after the unveiling of a statue of Adolf Dassler, founder of German sports equipment maker Adidas, 29 May 2006 in Herzogenaurach, southern Germany. TIMM SCHAMBERGER /AFP /Getty Images

It was then that Adi made a big decision: he was going to start his own shoe business, focusing on his idea of developing different designs for different athletes. He used his mom’s old laundry shed as his first base of operations.

The Beginnings of Something Big

Like any business, Adi’s shoe business started small. He was operating in a little former laundry shed, and he didn’t have a lot of money to start off, so offered his services in shoe repair around town to raise funds and to start spreading the word about his up and coming shoe business.

The Beginnings of Something Big

Photo by Karl Schnoerrer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Due to the economic fallout from the war and the chaos in Germany at the time, he couldn’t even get a loan or any materials to start making shoes, so he started scavenging for things out in the local area.

Finding Treasure Among the Rubble

Adi would actually go out to the local fields in the area, where a lot of old military equipment could be found from the days of the war and would use whatever he could find to start making his shoes.

Finding Treasure Among the Rubble

Photo by Karl Schnoerrer/picture alliance via Getty Images

He had always been a resourceful young man, and he was becoming even more inventive here. He made use of old army helmet for the soles of his shoes and would gather up used parachutes to create slippers. He even started building his own machines to try and speed up the production, making use of items like belts and leather scraps.

A Super Spiky Invention

Once he’d got himself set up with some materials and a reliable production system, Adi could finally start experimenting and bringing his vision of new athletic shoes to life. He was one of the first shoemakers to developed a type of spiked shoe.

A Super Spiky Invention

Source: sneakers-magazine.com

These shoes were particularly effective for track and field events, helping athletes run more quickly and efficiently. Adi’s design was extra special in that he tried to make use of lightweight materials rather than the heavy options used by his rivals to provide an even greater advantage to athletes.

Rudolf Joins Up with His Brother

Rudolf, Adi’s big brother, had planned to work in the police force originally, but when he started seeing how his brother worked and the ideas he was having, he thought it would be a great idea for the pair of them to join forces.

Rudolf Joins Up with His Brother

The Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory, located in Herzogenaurach, Germany. Source: puma.com

On July 1 of 1923, Rudolf officially joined Adi, and the company was given a new official name of Gebrüder Dassler, Sportschuhfabrik, Herzogenaurach (Dassler Brothers Sports Shoe Factory, Herzogenaurach). Their partnership had begun and was about to enjoy many successful years before its eventual breakdown.

A Big Boost Arrives

As with many businesses, the early days of the Dassler Brothers Sports Shoe Factory were quite a testing time, and the brand didn’t just take off immediately, but it did eventually catch the attention of a very important man named Josef Waitzer.

A Big Boost Arrives

Josef Waitzer. Source: Wikipedia

Waitzer was a former Olympic athlete who then went on to coach the Olympic track and field team for Germany. He heard about the Dassler brothers and their shoes and traveled to meet them, forming a strong friendship with Adi in particular. He helped the brothers get their shoes onto the feet of some prominent athletes.

A Few Early Tensions Among The Family

During the 1930s, Adi Dassler had started a course at the local Footwear Technical College and developed a friendship with one of his instructors, Franz Martz. He visited Franz’s house and fell in love with his 15-year-old daughter, Käthe.

A Few Early Tensions Among The Family

Käthe Martz and Adi Dassler. Source: Sutori.com

The pair got married in 1934, and Rudolf was also married to a woman named Friedl. Allegedly, Käthe’s arrival causes some issues among the Dasslers. She often spoke her mind and would have arguments with Rudolf, Friedl, and the Dassler parents. Rudolf would later say that this was the turning point in his relationship with Adi.

1936 Proves to Be A Very Good Year

The early 1930s caused some tensions among the brothers, but 1936 was a massive year for them. This was the year of the Berlin Olympics, and the brothers knew that this was their best shot at boosting the profile and popularity of their brand in some huge ways.

1936 Proves to Be A Very Good Year

Wearing white Gebrüder Dassler running shoes, Jesse Owens was the star athlete of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Source: Sutori.com

They knew they could get German athletes wearing their shoes, but they wanted to get a big international star too. They targeted American track and field legend, Jesse Owens. Adi Dassler offered a pair of shoes to Owens, who wore them for several events in which he performed brilliantly, winning several gold medals.

The Dasslers Become Internationally Popular

The fact that Jesse Owens wore Dassler shoes for the Olympics was an enormous boost for the brothers and their company. Suddenly, everyone was talking about the Dassler brothers and huge orders were coming in, giving Adi and Rudolf a lot of money and room for expansion.

The Dasslers Become Internationally Popular

Summer Olympics in Berlin in August 1936. Owens winning the 100m sprint. Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Interestingly, this story also had an amazingly positive effect years later, during the war; American troops were in the Herzogenaurach area and had planned to destroy the shoe factory, but when they learned it was the place where Jesse Owens’ shoes had been made, they decided to leave it alone and even bought shoes from there themselves.

The Second World War Changes Everything

Things were really looking up for the Dassler brothers, but the arrival of another global conflict completely changed the game. World War II broke out, and Adi was called up to the Wehrmacht, while Rudolf was allowed to stay home having already served for several years in WWI.

The Second World War Changes Everything

Source: Rudolf Dassler. Source: Puma.com

Their factory was converted to supply materials for the war effort, and Adi, who had been training as a radio technician, was eventually allowed to come back home to help run the factory, heading back home to Herzogenaurach in 1941. From there, things started to go badly for the brothers.

Tensions Start Rising

It was at this time, during a period of great global catastrophe and chaos, that a much smaller but still significant conflict was beginning to emerge among the Dassler brothers. It’s important to note that, even to this day, historians and experts disagree on the exact nature of this story.

Tensions Start Rising

Atmosphere at the Rudolf Dassler by Puma after party during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2008 held at Murkudis on July 14, 2007, in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Puma

There are many different theories about what really made Adi and Rudolf argue and split up, but many of the theories seem to tie into the same basic idea that tensions had started to build up due to jealousy and disputes among the brothers and their wives.

Rudolf Shows His Jealous Side

One of the first issues that must surely have contributed to the fallout between the two brothers was the fact that Adi had been allowed to leave the Wehrmacht to come back and look after the factory. The German authorities seemed to be stating that he was the boss of the business.

Rudolf Shows His Jealous Side

Location of the future PUMA Factory in the late 19th century. Source: Puma.com

Rudolf obviously wasn’t very happy about this and started to get bossy and show off his jealous, controlling side to try and assert his authority around the family. He started becoming more hostile towards other members of the family, including his own sister, Marie.

A Fiery Family Feud

The other Dassler brother, Fritz, wasn’t even speaking to Adi at the time, and now Rudolf was started to show a lot of anger and resentment towards his brother as well. He wanted to show that he was just as much a boss of the company as Adi.

A Fiery Family Feud

PUMA’s SUPER ATOM. Source: Puma.com

So, when Marie wanted her two boys to join up and work for the shoe company, Rudolf refused. He said that there were already enough people from the family employed by the business. This decision had tragic consequences as Marie’s sons ended up being conscripted and never coming home from the war.

Close Quarters Make Everything Harder

Another issue that may have played a part in the breakdown between the two brothers was the fact that they were all forced to live together in a relatively small space. The pressures of war meant that they all had to live together, and the conditions were quite cramped and claustrophobic.

Close Quarters Make Everything Harder

PUMA’s PUMA BRASIL. Source: Puma.com

The Dassler parents, Christoph and Pauline, along with Rudolf, Adi, their two wives, and several children, were all living in the same space. We’ve already seen how some tensions and disputes had been caused by Adi’s wife, Käthe, and these problems were exacerbated during WW2.

A Mistaken Exclamation Puts The Nail In The Coffin

One story about the Dassler brothers which really sheds some light on the fractures that had developed in the relationship they once had occurred in 1943. The Allies were bombing the area, and the Dasslers needed to get down into a shelter to be safe.

A Mistaken Exclamation Puts The Nail In The Coffin

Scottish goalkeeper and broadcaster Bob Wilson showing a pair of soccer cleats from an Adidas bag, UK, 16th November 1983. (Photo by STD/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Rudi and his wife were already hiding out in one shelter when Adi and his wife arrived. Adi proclaimed “The dirty b******s are back again” as he entered. He was talking about the Allies, but Rudolf thought he was referring to him and his wife and reacted very angrily.

Rudolf Gets Called Up

Nothing was going Rudolf’s way at the time and matters were made even worse for him in 1943 when he was drafted up to play a more active role on the front lines of the war effort. Having already seen his brother get released so quickly from the army, he was very frustrated by this.

Rudolf Gets Called Up

Alex Ferguson, Manager of Aberdeen who are League Champions of Scotland 1983/84 & Scottish FA Cup Winners 1984. Pictured at Pittodrie Stadium, August 1984. Scottish League Trophy (l) Scottish FA Cup (r). (Photo by Sunday People/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

In fact, he even went as far as writing a letter to his brother threatening to get the factory closed down so that Adi would have to come back out and fight as well. By this point, the friendship between the brothers was completely eroded.

A Broken Family

The war eventually came to an end, but the dispute between Adi and Rudolf had just gotten worse and worse. Rudolf had continuously tried to get control of the plant. Then, after the war, both men were investigated by the Allies for their involvement and role with the Nazi party.

A Broken Family

People queuing outside a shop selling Adidas shoes on Váci Utca (Váci Street) in Budapest, Hungary, 22nd May 1990. (Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty Images)

During trials and interrogation, both brothers betrayed each other. Adi proclaimed that Rudolf worked for the Gestapo, while Rudolf argued that Adi had been helping the Germans make weapons and given political speeches to their employees. There was no going back from this point.

The Business Comes to An End

By 1948, it was clear to see that Rudolf and Adi were 100% divided and couldn’t possibly rebuild their broken brotherly bond. They decided to split the businesses, dividing up all the assets equally and heading off to form their own new companies.

The Business Comes to An End

Bavaria, Herzogenaurach: A shoe from the sporting goods manufacturer Adidas is on display in a showroom before the start of the Adidas AG balance sheet press conference. Photo: Daniel Karmann/DPA (Photo by Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Rudolf, who was desperate to get away from his brother, moved over to the other side of the Aurach River, which ran through the center of town, to form his new company, while Adi remained north of the river. From that moment on, the pair never spoke to each other again.

Two New Brands

Adolf and Rudolf Dassler were both experts of the shoe and athletic industries. They knew the ins and outs of the business, and they both had great ideas and a lot of experience, so it was only natural they decided to start up their own companies and seek solo success.

Two New Brands

Adi Dassler earned the athletes trust by listening to them. Lina Radke won a Gold medal wearing Adi Dassler’s shoes already in 1928 at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Source: adidas-group.com

Adi started Adidas, making the name from his nickname, Adi, and the first three letters of his surname. Interestingly, Rudolf did a similar thing at first. His company was originally called Ruda, taking the first two letters of his first name and surname, but was quickly changed to Puma.

Forging New Identities for Their Brands

A big part of the success of any brand, especially in industries like sportswear, is getting your brand out there and making people recognize it. Rudolf had decided to change his company name to Puma, from the Quechua word for a cougar, and gave his brand a big cat logo, conjuring up images of agility and speed.

Forging New Identities for Their Brands

1957. BIRTH OF AN ICON. It’s the year when the first elements of PUMA’s logo take shape. Rudolf Dassler introduces the unmistakable sans-serif PUMA typeface along with an image logo. Source: Puma.com

Adi, meanwhile, decided on the idea of putting three stripes down the side of his shoes so that they would be instantly recognizable on the feet of athletes, even from a distance. The ‘three stripes’ also became part of the company’s logo.

Battling to Be the Best

Once the two brands had been set-up, Adi and Rudolf entered a full-fledged battle to be the best brand in the business. They both started seeing very swift success, with Puma developing its iconic soccer boots which were actually used by the West Germany football team.

Battling to Be the Best

The West Germany team line up in their Adidas tracksuit top’s before a match in the 1976 European Championships at the Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany, pictured include Franz Beckenbauer (3rd left) goalkeeper Sepp Maier (4th left) and Berti Vogts (2nd r). (Photo by Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images)

Unfortunately for Rudolf, the team later switched allegiances to Adidas and started wearing shoes designed by Adi instead. The feud and competition between the two brothers was continuing, but on a much larger scale than ever before, and both of them were desperate to outdo the other.

An Olympic Scandal In 1960

At the 1960 Olympics, Rudolf showed how far he was willing to go to outdo his brother. He actually paid a German sprinter named Armin Hary to wear Puma-branded shoes for his 100-meter sprint.

An Olympic Scandal In 1960

Source: Armin Hary – The 1960 100 meter Olympic Champion. speedendurance.com

Hary had been previously wearing Adidas shoes, but Rudolf’s offer was too good to turn down. Hary won gold in his Puma shoes but then decided to switch into Adidas ones while accepting the medal, hoping to get money from both brands. Instead, he simply made both Adi and Rudolf very angry, and this was just one example of the brands’ big battles over the years.

A Soccer Star Chooses Puma

Another huge event occurred for the brands in 1970 at the World Cup. It was the final match, being played between Brazil and Italy and watched by countless fans all over the globe. In other words, it was a prime marketing opportunity for a shrewd salesman like Rudolf Dassler.

A Soccer Star Chooses Puma

Brazilian midfielder Pelé (L) dribbles past Italian defender Tarcisio Burgnich during the World Cup final on 21 June 1970 in Mexico City. Pelé scored the opening goal for his team as Brazil went on to beat Italy 4-1 to capture its third World title after 1958 (in Sweden) and 1962 (in Chile). (Photo credit should read STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Just as the game was about to start, Pele, the best player in the world at the time, suddenly bent down to tie his shoelaces. It seemed like a natural act, but it later turned out that Pele had been instructed to do this to draw attention to his Puma boots.

All About the Athletes

The battles for exposure and marketing kept on raging over the years between Puma and Adidas. The success of the brands was dependent on getting big name stars and sporting personalities to use their products, and we’ve already seen that they’d do anything to sell more shoes.

All About the Athletes

Adidas ‘Impossible Is Nothing’ Ad Campaign In Paris: Mohamed Ali In Paris, France On March 05, 2004 (Photo by David LEFRANC/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Big soccer players like Franz Beckenbauer and Zinedine Zidane elected to go with Adidas, along with iconic boxer Muhammad Ali, but other legendary sporting figures like the Pele mentioned above and Maradona, as well as tennis hero Boris Becker, chose Puma. Both companies traded blows over the years and added new stars to their ranks.

In the End, Success Was Shared

Puma and Adidas were clearly doing all they could to beat each other, but in reality, the market accepted both brands and allowed the pair of them to flourish. In terms of sales and global appeal, Adidas has to be seen as the larger brand, but Puma is also an enormous success story.

In the End, Success Was Shared

German professional tennis player Boris Becker during a match at The Championships, Wimbledon, London, 1987. Photo by Chris Cole/Getty Images

There were times when it seemed like the brands were getting carried away with battling each other as if the industry wasn’t big enough for both of them. But it was. Both Adidas and Puma enjoyed great levels of success and expansion in the years to follow as Adi and Rudolf grew older.

Rivalries Among the Townsfolk

Even the local people living and working in Herzogenaurach started to express their own loyalties to either Puma or Adidas. People working at each company would go to different bakeries and visit different stores and pubs.

Rivalries Among the Townsfolk

Manchester United and England Footballer David Beckham after signing a new deal with Adidas boots at their Stockport headquarters. (Photo by Malcolm Croft – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

They didn’t like to hang out with each other, and the thought of an Adidas worker going into one of the popular Puma areas just seemed impossible at the time. There were almost no cases of Adidas workers marrying Puma workers, and most families and groups of friends tended to support one of the brands, but never both.

Even the Local Soccer Teams Were Split

The town of Herzogenaurach was effectively divided into two by the Dassler brothers and their respective businesses. This affected the town in all kinds of ways, some more significant than others. One interesting example of how the divide could be seen was in the local soccer teams.

Even the Local Soccer Teams Were Split

Employees of Puma and Adidas prepare to kick-off the match in Herzogenaurach in 2009. Timm Schamberger | AFP | Getty Images

There were actually two teams in the area: FC Herzogenaurach and ASV Herzogenaurach. Puma sponsored FC Herzogenaurach, while Adidas sponsored ASV Herzogenaurach, and this meant that the players on each time would only wear and use shoes and equipment from their respective sponsor.

A Long-Lasting Legacy in A Little Town

Even today, you can visit the town of Herzogenaurach and see traces of the legacy left by Rudolf and Adi Dassler. Even as you walk down the streets, you’ll see manhole covers emblazoned with Puma and Adidas brand logos, and the town still has families that support one brand or the other.

A Long-Lasting Legacy in A Little Town

13 May 2018, Germany, Herzogenaurach: Soccer, German regional league north, 1. FC Herzogenaurach vs. SpVgg Huettenbach-Simmelsdorf at the Rudolf-Dassler-Sports-Field: Lothar Matthaeus (2-R) before the beginning of the match. For the last time, Matthaeus returns to the pitch for his home club. The 57-year-old wants to play the last match of his career for the Middle Franconian club. Photo: Matthias Merz/dpa (Photo by Matthias Merz/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Fortunately, the intense rivalry that once existed in Herzogenaurach has finally died down. People still tend to have a favorite brand, but the matter doesn’t divide them in the way it once did, with many Adidas fans happy to befriend and hang out with Puma fans, and vice versa.

A Sporting City with A Good Sense Of Humor

Another interesting thing about Herzogenaurach today is how many people can be spotted wearing Adidas, and Puma branded clothes and shoes. It’s almost impossible to walk down a single street without spotting at least a few people in sports shoes and attire, with pretty much every inhabitant of the city owning at least some Puma or Adidas gear.

A Sporting City with A Good Sense Of Humor

13 June 2018, Germany, Herzogenaurach: The ‘Telstar 18’, the official ball of this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia, sits in front of the shoe of a kicking robot at the research lab ‘Future Lab’ of sports manufacturer Adidas. Photo: Daniel Karmann/DPA (Photo by Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Many people make jokes and poke fun at each other based on the brand they’ve chosen to wear, but it’s all done in a good-natured, light-hearted sort of way, and the mayor of the town actually chooses to wear both brands so as not to show any allegiance to one side or the other.

A Friendly Game to Bury the Hatchet

In 2009, workers at both Adidas and Puma decided to organize a special symbolic gesture to try and bury the hatchet after all those years of disputes and competition: they organized a friendly soccer match to be played by various workers and higher-ups at each brand.

A Friendly Game to Bury the Hatchet

Jochen Zeitz (L), chairman of German sports equipment manufacturer Puma and chairman of Adidas AG, Herbert Hainer, sit before a football match between employees of Puma and Adidas in the southern German city of Herzogenaurach on September 21, 2009. The sporting event ‘Peace one day’ is the first event by both companies since their split more than sixty years ago. AFP PHOTO DDP / TIMM SCHAMBERGER GERMANY OUT (Photo credit TIMM SCHAMBERGER/AFP/Getty Images)

The bosses of both businesses, Herbert Hainer for Adidas and Jochen Zeitz for Puma, participated in the game. The ball they used was specially made and printed with the logos of both companies, and both of their logos could be seen on their jerseys and the pitch as well. It was a nice way to show how times had changed.

A Raging Rivalry Led to Great Success

Without Adi and Rudolf being so angry with each other and so desperate to outdo one another, Adidas and Puma may never have become as big or important as they are today. When both men passed away, their respective sons took over the businesses.

A Raging Rivalry Led to Great Success

Footballs lay on the pitch before a football match between employees of German sports equipment manufacturers Puma and Adidas in the southern German city of Herzogenaurach on September 21, 2009. The sporting event ‘Peace one day’ is the first event by both companies since their split more than sixty years ago. Photo credit TIMM SCHAMBERGER/AFP/Getty Images

Nowadays, both Adidas and Puma are public companies, no longer owned by their respective families, and they’ve contributed a huge amount to the world, and especially the town of Herzogenaurach, which has developed enormously over the years and had a super strong economy and lots of jobs thanks to the Adidas and Puma brands.

Separated Even in Death

Rudolf Dassler was the first of the two brothers to pass away. He died on October 27 of 1974 and was aged 76 at the time. Adi, meanwhile, lived to the age of 78 before passing away on December 6 of 1978. Rudolf had died of lung cancer, while Adi suffered from heart failure.

Separated Even in Death

In this handout image supplied on September 18, 2009 by Peace One Day, sportswear rivals Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer (L) and Puma Chairman and CEO Jochen Zeitz (R) meet for a historical and symbolic peace accord, ending six decades of rivalry between the companies, in support of Peace One Day and the One Day One Goal campaign on the United Nations Day of Peace, September 21. (Photo by Peace One Day via Getty Images)

Both men wished to be buried in their hometown of Herzogenaurach, but because of their animosity and divide, they were actually buried at totally different ends of the town. Even in death, they remained symbolically separated, never to be reunited again.

Two of The Biggest Modern Brands

Now, many years after their famous falling out, the companies of Rudolf and Adi have developed into two of the biggest sportswear brands on the planet. Adidas is the biggest brand of its kind in Europe and second only to Nike in terms of the global market. Puma, meanwhile, is ranked as the third largest sportswear brand on the planet.

Two of The Biggest Modern Brands

Source: Puma.com

Both of these brands employ thousands of people and sell their products countries all over the globe. They both continue to enjoy enormous success, and none of it would have happened without that family feud back in 1948.