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The original King of Kicks

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If you don’t know by now, Eric Leeson is the original King of Kicks. Russian Bear Vodka treated him to a once in a lifetime New York City sneaker shopping experience. Eric is a father, a husband and the ultimate sneakerhead. He is so passionate about sneakers that wore his Air Jordans to his wedding, alongside his bride and son – which was his winning entry by the way.

With the launch of the next round of #KingOfKicks around the corner, we decided to catch up with Eric about his win last year.

  • How did you come across the #KingOfKicks last year and what were your original thoughts?

I stumbled upon posts by many people posting on various Facebook pages namely, SneakerHeads SA and on Twitter. My initial thoughts were “this could be interesting”. I saw a lot of well – known people entering and was intrigued.

  • Who influenced your sneaker game?

My cousin, Marcel Witbooi, was and still is my real influence. He had the freshest gear because his dad travelled the world regularly from California to Tanzania and would always bring back interesting sneakers and fashion for him to rock.

  • What was it about your pair of winning kicks that made you enter it?

I entered my kicks because I noticed everyone was entering pictures of their shoes only or with clothing combos or on foot only. I figured it would be an interesting touch to enter a full length shot of myself and my wife wearing our sneakers on our wedding day; a day that’s not usually seen as an appropriate sneaker occasion but is nowadays recognised as a norm. Sneakers, just like tattoos, are becoming more acceptable to wear at all events.

  • How many times did you enter King of Kicks?

I think I entered each category about 2-3 times

  • In your opinion, is the sneaker culture making its mark on the South African market/culture

The sneaker culture is definitely makings its mark, transcending age, gender and socioeconomic situations. It’s something that’s been here for a while, but it just wasn’t as big of a trend as it is today. It wasn’t a culture back then, it was just a thing the guys did. It’s becoming a business for many and a hobby for most. It just seems to be something that brings people together because we all have different kicks and different opinions on the subject.

  • What are currently your ultimate kicks? 

As a child, I always wanted ‘Jays’ but it’s become a bit of a circus out here just trying to get them. So I’m really focused on my love for classic basketball sneakers namely the AIR MORE UPTEMPO.

  • Tell us about your trip in New York City?

I’ve always dreamt about going to New York City all my life and hearing stories about being on the subway and how people always look down at your shoes. Everything I have ever read in books or saw on TV was exactly like that in real life. New York is an amazing city, which opened my mind up to what is actually available to us in SA when it comes to fashion and sneakers especially. My mind was blown when I walked into Flight Club and Nike Town.

  • What sneakers did you pick upin New York?

I bought about 14 pairs, including Air More Uptempos, Fila Mashburns, Nike air tech Challenge, Jordan Slides, Air max 90s, Nike air Flare and some Nike CB34s.

  • What was the highlight of your trip?

I have two! The first has to be walking into Footlocker in Time Square at 10pm and being faced with that sheer selection of kicks on a daily basis. I walked into 3 to 4 different footlocker stores each day. The other was our Hip Hop Tour to Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn, and then of course going to see a live NBA league game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwakee Bucks, which has been a lifelong dream.

  • Are you entering in 2016?

I hope to enter just for the fun of it. I can’t expect to win the trip AGAIN! But yes I will enter.

  • If someone is hesitant to enter in 2016, what would you say to them?

When it comes to sneakers… I would say…”wear what YOU like”, not what everyone else says is cool or uncool. Post up what you have at home, whether it be old Converse All Stars or North Star Excitements or really beat up Reeboks. Mix and match up the colour combos, laces or even customize them. I ultimately entered a picture of shoes I had hidden away for years before I actually wore them on my wedding day. Make the pictures interesting, use cool camera angles and effects to make them unique.

There you have it, Eric’s once in a lifetime experience in New York City last year.

Do you think your kicks have what it takes to crown you the next King of Kicks? Enter your freshest kicks at and stand a chance of visiting the home of sneaker culture – New York City. Entries open August 1st 2016.

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