Ding Shizhong is a self-made billionaire passionate about shoes. He owns Chinese sportswear giant ANTA. Shizhong dreamt of helping his family's financial burden when he was 1, and began selling shoes his father made at home, In 1994, he started ANTA. Initially sportswear brands benefited from the surge in interest in sports following the 2008 Beijing Olympics but an oversaturation in the local sportswear sector meant there was a critical slowdown in sales. ANTA soldiered on and under the direction of Shizhong crafted a multi-brand strategy to engage a diverse Chinese consumer market. In 2009, the company acquired Fila's loss-making Chinese arm, positioning ANTA label as a high-end sports market outlet in China. Fila revenues have been growing at an average of 40 percent over the past five years. As part of the same strategy the company went into a joint venture with Descente (Japan), which specializes in winter sports equipment and apparel and more acquisitions are in the pipeline.
Among ANTA’s most high profile investments are partnerships with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in China and the Chinese Olympic Committee. The company's endorsement and shoe deal with the Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson resulted in the development of the point guard's signature and top selling ANTA KT Fire basketball shoes.
ANTA dressed the Chinese national team for the 2016 Rio Olympics.