By Leonard Rodriguez
This column highlights inspiring stories of Latino leaders. For more than 500 years, Latino men and women have positively influenced the face of United States society. Let us celebrate these outstanding hispanics.

Angel Martinez

Angel Martinez Joining the fledgling Reebok Corp. in 1980 as a sales representative, Angel Martinez is credited with creating the aerobic shoe industry. In 1981, as the running shoe market began to level, Martinez began looking for a new niche and came up with the idea for an aerobic shoe.

Though this idea was initially rejected by CEO Paul Fireman, Martinez continued to promote his idea. One month later, he sent Fireman 1,000 orders, creating the aerobic shoe and making the Reebok Freestyle Aerobic Shoe the best in-selling shoe in history.

Raised in a Bronx duplex on food stamps, today Martinez is the president and CEO of the $300 million Rockport co.