Anthony “Tony” Burton, known to many as Duke Evers of the Rocky films, passed away yesterday in California. The death was confirmed by Burton’s sister Loretta and Rocky co-star Carl Weathers.
— Carl Weathers (@TheCarlWeathers) February 26, 2016
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Burton was born March 23rd, 1937 in Flint, Michigan. He became a Michigan Golden Gloves boxing champion and was an exceptional all-around athlete was a teenager.
His 6-foot, 200 pound frame made him an ideal boxer.
According to Burton’s Wikipedia page, after winning the Flint Golden Gloves light-heavyweight championship in 1955 and 1957, he went pro in 1958, amassing a 16-3-0 record, and winning the Arizona light-heavyweight championship. But life got tough after boxing and Burton served three and a half years for robbery at the California Institution for men in Chino, California.
Burton used incarceration to get himself together. He obtained both his high school diploma and a degree from the University of California. An experience during workshop therapy helped guide him towards acting.
His show business career started in 1974. During the Rocky saga, he guest-starred in numerous shows, including Good Times, Kojack, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Rockford Files, Sanford and Son, A Different World, In the Heat of the Night and NYPD Blue.
He is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio.
Burton is survived by his wife Rae.