Tony Burton, boxer and star of the Rocky movie franchise, has passed away at the age of 78.
Burton portrayed Tony ‘Duke’ Evers in the first six Rocky films, from 1976 to 2006. His character was first introduced as the trainer of Rocky Balboa’s rival Apollo Creed, later becoming Balboa’s manager. Burton was one of only four actors to appear in the first six Rocky films.
Actor Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the first four movies, took to Twitter to pay tribute to Burton. He wrote: “Sad news. RIP Tony Burton. His intensity and talent helped make the Rocky movies successful.”
@E_Woodyard @TheSlyStallone Sad news. RIP Tony Burton. His intensity and talent helped make the Rocky movies successful. #BePeace
— Carl Weathers (@TheCarlWeathers) February 26, 2016
Burton’s younger sister Loretta Kelley confirmed the news of his death to local Michigan paper MLive. The cause of death is not yet known, with Kelley saying that Burton had been “in and out of the hospital for the past year, but never received an official diagnosis”.
As well as the Rocky films, Burton’s acting work also included roles in Assault on Precinct 13, Frank’s Place, The A-Team, NYPD Blue, Kojak and Twin Peaks.
Burton’s professional boxing career lasted from 1958-1959. Prior to that, he had been an amateur light heavyweight champion.