On February 25, 2016, 78-year-old actor and ex-boxer Tony Burton finally fought his last round after a long battle with pneumonia. The world knew Tony Burton best as Duke, the hard-ass boxing trainer in the Rocky series. He had a supporting role in six total Rocky films, most recently the 2006 sequel, Rocky Balboa. Burton was a long-time friend of Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the franchise.
It should come as no surprise that the man who trained both Creed and Rocky on film was a boxer himself in his early years. He was a two-time light-heavyweight champion before he retired from the sport in 1959. After that, Tony Burton tried to cobble his life together, but eventually found himself doing a three-year stretch in a California prison for robbery. While behind bars, Burton took an interest in acting, and in 1974 he landed his first role in the blaxploitation film The Black Godfather.
After a string of minor TV appearances, Burton nabbed a small role in John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, and then finally went for the knockout when he was cast as Duke in the first Rocky film. The rest, as they say, is history.