Phil Knight was born on February 24, 1938 in Portland, Oregon. Growing up, Phil was always into running. He would frequently run the many trails around Oregon. Phil was also a key member of Cleveland High School’s track team. One day he decided to take a trip around the world, and that’s where his adventure started. He visited Japan in 1962 and discovered the brand of running shoes that was known as Tiger (Today the brand is known globally as Asics). Phil fell in love with the shoes and wanted to take them back to America to sell.
He got a meeting with Onitsuka and was able to make a contract so that he could sell their shoes in America. Following this, Phil formed Blue Ribbon Sports with his track coach Bill Bowerman. The shoes were very well received and over the next few years Phil and Bowerman opened retail spaces in Santa Monica, California, and Eugene, Oregon. The business was growing very well with profits doubling year after year. Eventually, due to a lack of understanding and repeated issues, Phil and Bowerman split from Onitsuka and formed Nike. Nike’s first shoe, the Cortez, debuted at the 1972 Olympics. The Cortez was an instant hit. It was incredibly popular, and still is to this day.
Shoe Dog is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.