Reebok's United Kingdom-based ancestor company was founded for one of the best reasons possible: athletes wanted to run faster. So, in the 1890s, Joseph William Foster made some of the first known running shoes with spikes in them. By 1895, he was in business making shoes by hand for top runners; and before long his fledgling company, J.W. Foster and Sons, developed an international clientele of distinguished athletes. The family-owned business proudly made the running shoes worn in the 1924 Summer Games by the athletes celebrated in the film "Chariots of Fire."
In 1958, two of the founder's grandsons started a companion company that came to be known as Reebok, named for an African gazelle.