Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hype Igoe Cartoons

Herbert A. (‘Hype‘) Igoe, “probably the best informed writer on boxing that ever lived,” according to Damon Runyon, and a swell cartoonist, was born 27 April 1878 in Santa Cruz, California. He and his best friend’s Rube Goldberg and Thomas Aloysius “TAD” Dorgan, (1877 -1929), attended Polytechnic High School where they were taught art.

San Francisco was the birthplace of the daily comic strip, with Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff. The city was full of sports cartoonists and supplement illustrators. There were Charley Arcanne, Charlie Edwards, Jimmy Swinnerton, Homer Davenport, Tad Dorgan, Hype Igoe, Rube Goldberg, Merle “Bug” Johnson, Jules Pages, Bob Carter, Haydon Jones, Harrison Fisher, Bob Edgren and Dan Smith.

Hype Igoe started his newspaper career at 15 as an office boy (along with Tad,) for Jimmy Swinnerton and Homer Davenport on Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner. It's been said that he got Bud Fisher his first job, on the San Francisco Chronicle. In 1905 Swinnerton, famous for the “Little Bears” cartoons , brought the inseparable pair to New York. Brisbane only wanted Tad, who refused to make the move without Hype Igoe. Both were hired and moved to the Hearst newspaper building at 238 William Street. Hearst was publishing two newspapers from the plant, the Morning American and the Evening Journal.

One of Igoe’s best friends was Damon Runyon, sports writer on the Morning American, who had a deep admiration for the older, legendary writer. They were introduced by Tad, who drew cartoons for the American. Hype Igoe was the boxing writer for the other paper, the Evening Journal. Damon Runyon kept a trunk load of new shoes, which Igoe broke in for him with the result that he never had to buy new footwear for himself. Hype’s ukelele was confiscated by the proprietor of Jack’s busy restaurant because the resulting sing-a-longs slowed down the trade.

Igoe was a confidant of boxing champions from the times of Gentleman Jim Corbett. He covered every boxing match from the Fitzimmons/Corbett fight down to Joe Louis’s battle with Abe Simon in 1942, and with the exception of Gene Tunney he predicted every winning heavyweight champion. He was a pallbearer at the funeral of Bat Masterson, knew Wyatt Earp, Tex Rickard and Jack Dempsey. He had once managed the brutal middleweight boxer Stanley Ketchel, who was murdered by a jealous husband in Conway, Missouri. Runyon compared Igoe’s boxing writings to those of Pierce Egan, the London historian of pugilism.

There were a lot of stories as to the origin of the name “Hype,” Here’s one of them from a previous post:

“It was Dorgan who helped popularize the label “Hype”, which Igoe had hung on him by a 300 pound Negro elevator operator. The operator took one look at the slender 15 year old copy-boy back in the days when he was working for the San Francisco Examiner and observed: “Mr. Igoe, yo ain’t no bigger than a hypodermic needle.””

Hype himself originated the phrase "to hype," as in standing behind his fighters "hyping" them up for the slugout.

Hype Igoe, 67 year old fight expert for the New York Journal American, died of a heart ailment 12 February 1945, leaving a widow and four children.

*Cartoons courtesy of Kevin Igoe.


  1. Greetings from New York. I'm currently reading a wonderful book, Tunney: boxing's brainiest champ and his upset of the great Jack Dempsey, by Jack Cavanaugh. In its pages I came across the name Hype Igoe. Intrigued, I googled the name, and thus found your blog. Fascinating.

  2. Amazing what reading will do for you eh
    researching a great athlete by the name of Harley Davidson between 1890 and 1920, before the invention of a motorcycle, kept seeing these amazing drawings and funny little comic strips poot weet

  3. Hype was my grandfather. His daughter Gloria was my mother who passed away yesterday at the age of 90. I have many scrapbooks with Hype's cartoons and articles. He was indeed a character!