Nike founder, who used waffle iron to invent trainers, dies

BILL BOWERMAN, co-founder of Nike and the man who made the first modern running shoe by pressing rubber in his wife's waffle iron, has died aged 88.

Bowerman, who coached at the University of Oregon from 1949 to 1972 and was on Nike's board until last year, died in his sleep on Friday at his home in Fossil, Oregon, said a company spokesman.

He was experimenting with ways to make a lighter, more flexible shoe for his athletes when he invented the first light sole in his garage using latex, leather, glue and his wife's waffle iron. In 1964 he teamed up with one of his former athletes, Phil Knight, to chip in $500 each and make 330 pairs of the "Waffle-sole" shoes. They sold them for $3.30 each at track meetings from the boot of Knight's car, the first step towards launching Nike, named from the Greek goddess of victory. It became a multi-billion-dollar shoe and clothes firm.

Bowerman also helped to popularise jogging with a 1967 book on running as exercise. "He was for so many of us a hero, leader and most of all teacher," Mr Knight, the Nike chairman, said. "My sadness at his passing is beyond words." Mr Knight has called Bowerman the biggest influence on his life after his parents.

During his career at the University of Oregon, Bowerman coached 24 individual National Collegiate Athletic Association track champions and led his teams to four national titles. In 24 years as coach his Ducks teams finished 16 times in the top 10. He was also head track coach at the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, marred by an attack that claimed the lives of 11 Israeli athletes, five terrorists and a West German policeman. Bowerman called it "the worst experience I've had in my entire educational and athletic life".

Bowerman, born in Portland in 1911, graduated from the University of Oregon, where he excelled at football and track events. He coached high- school football and athletics before taking the job at Oregon.

Two months ago Nike said a silhouette of Bowerman would appear on Nike running shoes alongside a smaller "swoosh", the company's trademark. (Reuters, AP)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high