The rivalry and family feud of the Dassler brothers has always been a popular topic of debate amongst sportswear obsessives. The general gist of the story is thus: Adolf and Rudolf Dassler owned and operated a sports shoe factory together, they quarreled during the second world war, and after the war they each founded their own sports brand: Adolf founded Adidas and Rudolf founded Puma.
Adolf "Adi" Dassler Rudolf "Rudi" Dassler
The feud between the brothers was bitter, one story relates to the Second World War when Rudolf and his family were taking shelter in Adolf's bomb shelter during allied bombing: Rudolf believed Adolf said "The dirty b******s are back again" when Adolf entered the shelter and discovered Rudolf and his family. There are also claims that Rudolf Dassler was accused of being a member of the Waffen SS and Gestapo. Rudolf believed that Adolf had informed the American investigating officers and wanted him "out of the way".
Rudolf and Adolf Dassler had founded the company Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik that operated from 1924-1948. The company was highly successful, with many medal winning athletes using Dassler spikes at the Olympic Games in 1928, 1932 and 1936. Adolf was the design genius and Rudolf was the marketing man. When the brother dissolved their partnership and founded their own companies in 1948 and 1949, the fierceness of the rivalry was aided by the fact that both companies were located in the same small German town of Herzogenaurach.
With the majority of the town's population employed by one of the two factories, it led to German's referring to the town of Herzogenaurach as the "the town of bent necks": with people checking if someone was wearing Adidas or Puma shoes. The town also has two football clubs: ASV Herzogenaurach and FC Herzogenaurach: ASV Herzogenaurach is sponsored and associated with Adidas and FC Herzogenaurach is sponsored and associated with Puma.
There was always a competitive edge between the two brothers and their companies: the brothers always attempted to entice German sports teams, athletes and sports celebrities to switch to their footwear. Muhammad Ali and Franz Beckenbauer were famous sports stars who wore Adidas footwear, and Pele and Boris Becker were global sports stars who wore Pumas. The feud between the brothers lasted from the 1940's to the 1970's; the brothers died with never reconciling their differences.