I'm not a particularly foul-mouthed type but there are times in a man's life when he needs to swear because anger courses through you in a way that only a good cursing will do. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to properly swear in this space, damn it! Smokin' Joe Frazier passed away this week and the lack of respect accorded that man was obvious to me even at a young age. Be honest, when was the last time you thought about Joe Frazier? His great nemesis, Muhammad Ali, is never far from our thoughts as he is routinely feted as the greatest sportsman ever, a courageous civil rights pioneer, a poet and a poseur of extraordinary magnitude and on and on. Frazier had no such romance in his legacy. One day you hear he has advanced liver cancer and the next day he is dead. It was that quick. But that's not why I feel like cursing. No, I am still incensed because it's 1971 all over again. When Frazier fought Ali for the first time it was billed not only as the biggest fight ever, it was the biggest sporting event ever. I was in grade eight and I was a Frazier fan and I'm not entirely sure why because everybody else was for Ali. Frazier was straight up with no pretence, while Ali was just so full of himself, so busy perpetuating his own myth. When the fight was finally announced the invective hurled at Smokin' Joe was intolerable. Even worse, Ali made him out to be a traitor to his race. An uneducated son of a sharecropper from South Carolina, a direct descendant of slaves and a guy who actually worked in the cotton fields growing up and here was the light-skinned Ali, who never had a job other than boxing in his life, screaming that Frazier wasn't black enough? In the documentary Thrilla in Manila they broke things down like this: 'If you rooted for Ali, you were black, liberal or young and for the civil rights movement. If you backed Joe Frazier, you were a representative of white conservative America.' Well, I was white, but conservative? Certainly not this 13-year-old, but no one in my class would bet on Frazier so I had to take all the action. We bet our lunch money for the month, me against 10 other guys. I had no idea how I would pay it if I lost but I didn't care. There was no live TV coverage, this being the biggest thing ever; it was also the first pay-per-view event so I followed on the radio, which was only allowed to do round-by-round updates. As you probably heard, Frazier won. Knocked Ali down in the 15th with a thunderous left hook and scored a unanimous decision. I was deliriously happy and thought for a moment that I could quit school and just retire because I had won so much money. The next day I was the first person at school. Pay up, suckers. But one guy who was the designated mouthpiece for the group said they weren't paying. 'He had to knock him out,' he said. 'That was the bet.' Like hell it was. And then another weasel feeling emboldened piped up and said: 'Ali didn't lose, the judges screwed him.' Ali and his people adapted that line as well. He didn't lose the fight; the judges gave it to Frazier. Now you understand why I feel like swearing. I am still upset 40 years later. Smokin' Joe had figured that as the undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion of the world he would finally get some respect. But it was just the opposite. And the guy who led the gang that wouldn't pay up? He turned out to be a colossal idiot, a jerk of the highest magnitude, which was hardly a surprise. I have no idea where he is today or even if he is still among the living and I couldn't care less. If we ever cross paths again I think I will knock him out and ask, do I win the bet now? Some things you just can't let go of. Smokin' Joe remained Ali's public foil, his whipping boy. They fought twice more, including perhaps the most brutal fight in the history of boxing, the Thrilla' in Manila. Ali was never the same after the fight and admits he thought he was going to die. Eventually, his wit did die and today he is a sad reminder of what he was. Frazier hated the man and revelled in his role of debilitating Ali. Call his cell phone and this was the message you got: 'My name is Smokin' Joe Frazier - sharp as a razor, [laughing] Yeah, floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. I'm the man who done the job, he knows, look and see.' When the great grammarian in the sky changes your tense from present to past, they say forgiveness is divine. But the pain never went away for Smokin' Joe. He went to his grave unable to forgive Ali because, well, some things you just can't let go of.