Meet Bo Rambler

Mike JoyceBo Rambler shows off at a men's basketball game.

From 1982 to 1990, Loyola was represented by a fat, bearded hobo named Bo Rambler. Mike Joyce, a 1984 Loyola graduate, spent eight games as the mascot.

Joyce, who received a bachelor’s degree in business administration, wasn’t officially selected as Bo — his co-worker was. When that co-worker became too busy for the role, Joyce happily filled in.

“One of the busboys that worked for me was selected as Bo,” said Joyce. “He was paying his way through college, he was a hard worker, and he just said he couldn’t do it. He asked me if I could do it, and I said I’d love to.”

From 1981 to 1984, the Loyola men’s basketball team went on a streak of four straight winning seasons. Joyce said it was fun to be part of the team when it was so successful.

“At the time, Alfredrick Hughes was a big ball player. He was scoring a lot, and Loyola was a great team,” said Joyce. “To be part of a top-tier caliber team, [and] to be a part of the fan base, it helped me have an experience that other people have at schools with a football team.”

During games, Joyce would walk around the arena interacting with fans. Joyce also had one routine with the cheerleaders.

“We’d spell ‘Loyola’ out on center court. This was the most important thing; it was what everyone waited for,” Joyce said. “I started underneath one basket, and then as the cheerleaders spelled ‘Loyola,’ when they got to the ‘A,’ I would run across the court, dive over one of the cheerleaders, slide across the floor to make the cross bar of the ‘A’ and everyone would go wild.”

Diving across center court was as wild as Joyce could get during games because of how heavy the costume was.

“There wouldn’t be any gymnastics, per se, because this thing was gigantic when you put it on,” Joyce said. “It was like wearing a large barrel. I would sweat profusely. The suit was pretty old, so it got hot and stinky during the game. I could never take the hat off — even at half time — so I was drenched. I would wear a bathing suit and T-shirt in the thing.”

Despite the drawbacks, Joyce said one of the most rewarding parts of wearing the costume was being able to interact with bewildered young fans.

“A lot of times, children would come up to me and punch or pull [on the costume],” said Joyce. “My nose was rather large, so they would grab it. They would tug on me so I would sit down and interact with them, [which was] always fun.”

His experience wasn’t always fun. In fact, sometimes the situaton turned violent.

Joyce said he once got in a fight with the Northwestern Wildcat. He said he believes there’s an implied respect between mascots and that the Wildcat broke that respect.

“There was never supposed to be any negative action between mascots. It was all about positivity,” said Joyce. “The Northwestern Wildcat at that time was very aggressive. He hit me once and I told him not to do that, [then] he laughed and punched me harder. He went to throw a third punch, and I threw him to the ground. I was worried the fans would think Bo was being disrespected, so I thought I had to represent the school.”

Joyce said he loved being Bo Rambler, but he understands why Loyola had to switch to Lu Wolf in 1990.

“I think there was definitely a need to transition to a different style of mascot. Lu Wolf connects with today’s generation of mascots that are gymnasts and athletes,” Joyce said. “Having said that, Bo connected to a previous generation. I understand why the university had to move away from Bo, but I wish the costume was in a display somewhere.”

Unfortunately for Joyce, the costume isn’t in a display somewhere because not many people know where it is. The Loyola swimming team stole the Bo Rambler costume in 1992, according to a 2013 article by The Phoenix, and it has been missing ever since. Without the costume, Loyola lost a piece of its history, Joyce said.

Joyce now lives in Skokie, Illinois, and is married with two kids. He said it was an honor to represent Loyola as Bo Rambler and that remembering his days as Loyola’s mascot helps him feel like a kid again at 54 years old.

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