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Letter: Hip-hop’s roots go deeper than Ali

Prizefighter and humanitarian Muhammad Ali died June 3,

Prizefighter and humanitarian Muhammad Ali died June 3, 2016, in the Phoenix area after a brief hospitalization for a respiratory problem, according to a statement released by his family. He was 74. In this May 1, 1972, photo he has just finished a fight with George Chuvalo in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Newsday's obituary for Muhammad Ali
Credit: AP

In his June 9 column, “Why Muhammad Ali still matters” [Opinion], Clarence Page writes that Ali’s poetry, “loaded as it was with rhyme, braggadocio and swagger,” was “the first glimmers of what we later would know as hip-hop.”

I believe the origins were earlier. I remember from my childhood in the 1940s a sung, rhyming and vulgar poetry. This was in the streets of the South Bronx in a very mixed neighborhood.

This poetry was called “the dozens.” I still remember the words to two of the poems, and when I sing them, I put myself into a beat similar to hip-hop. I could include the words, but they’re too vulgar to put on paper.

Jerrold Schreibersdorf, Douglaston