21. Kihachiro Onitsuka
Who And Why: Founder of Onitsuka Tiger, godfather of Nike
Years Of Influence: 1949-2007
For a long time in Japan, Asics was the number-one shoe company. They’re most known in Japan for outfitting kids in public schools with gym gear. I really am a fan of what they do on a contemporary basis as well. They have a really keen, tasteful eye in everything that they produce. Furthermore, in the lore of sneaker history, one could argue that if it weren’t for Asics, Nike would not exist. Phil Knight was a sales rep for Asics. His frustrations with supplying the demand for Asics, fueled him to start his brand—Blue Ribbon Sports, which later became Nike.