ASICS is one of the oldest and finest companies in the performance running business. It is also the birthplace of Nike as Onitsuka (now ASICS) distributor in Western US was Blue Ribbon Sports, which became Nike. Jeff Benjamin visited their former US HQ, now a marketing center. Here’s his story:
The Visit To “The Land Of The Rising Shoes”!
The name ASICS is an acronym for the Latin phrase “anima sana in corpore sano”, which translates as “Healthy soul in a healthy body”.
Founded in 1949 in Japan, the company known today as ASICS has been a consistent force in the Athletics scene, particularly for Runners and Track & Field Athletes, and not just for the Japanese either.
American Running/Track Legends Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Jim Spivey, Steve Scott, Deena Kastor, Joe Falcon, John & Johnny Gregorek and Ryan & Sara Hall have all competed at the highest levels in the product. Marty Liquori was the first Sub-4 Miler who wore the ASICS brand. Lolo Jones, still chasing her Olympic dreams, competes in ASICS as well. ASICS also shook up the track world a few years ago as they signed youth Star Candice Hill at the age of 16 to a ten-year contract!
In recent years the American Branch of the company has been run (pardon the pun!) by Former New York City Prep Star and Fordham Collegiate Mile standout out Gene McCarthy who, as a young runner pursuing the dream of a sub-4 Mile back in the late 70’s, was mentored by Liquori and rewarded with a 3:42.06 1500 performance, finishing behind Steve Ovett and Filbert Bayi in Jamaica in 1980. “The disciplined, goal-oriented mind frame I learned as a runner made me the first person in my family to go to college and got me to where I am today,” said the Bronx native and Van Cortland Park competitor, who also serves on the Van Cortland Park Conservancy Board.
It’s that sort of discipline and goal-setting that ASICS America seems to be growing upon as it looks towards the 2020 Olympics, which will be held in the backyard of the parent company.
This writer was given the opportunity to check out the Irvine, California headquarters, which is now one of 2 in the United States, as ASICS has recently planted their foothold in Boston as well with a new corporate building and has offices in New York City.
As one can see from the pictures, “Sound Mind in A Sound Body” is not just a concept but a reality.