“Tony ‘Duke’ Evers”
Appearing in: Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky V, Rocky Balboa
Born on March 23, 1937 in Flint, Michigan, Tony is one of the three main characters – including Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young – who appeared in every single Rocky film in the series. Tony played a strong cornerman in all six films, initially starting out as Apollo Creed’s trainer, and eventually moving on to work Rocky’s corner in the rest of the series.
During the 1950’s, Burton was a Michigan Golden Gloves heavyweight boxing champ and two-time all-state football player at Flint Northern High School where he played halfback, garnering great respect along with the title of team co-captain and Most Valuable Player. During his school years, he was also a leading baseball pitcher, bringing his team the city championship title.
Burton’s boxing career included the Flint Golden Gloves light heavyweight championship in 1955 and 1957 – not to mention a 16-3 pro record. He went on to fight as a professional boxer in the late 1950’s in many cities including Hollywood, Palm Springs and Los Angeles, during which time he was knocked out by Lamar Clark who holds the record for the most consecutive KO’s.
Tony’s acting career includes such classics as “The Shining” – in which he portrayed Larry the garage owner – “Hook”, starring Robin Williams, “Assault on Precinct 13” and dozens of guest appearances on television series including Kojak, The Rockford Files, ChiPs, Twin Peaks and The A-Team, costarring his Rocky III nemesis, Mr. T. In 1977, he even had a role in a made-for-TV film starring Talia Shire entitled “Kill Me if You Can”.
A gifted chess player, Tony once beat master chessman and director Stanley Kubrick on the set of The Shining, and is even glimpsed playing against the Russian guard in Rocky IV.
In 1993, Burton was inducted into the Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame. Tony made his final appearance in the Rocky series, reprising his role as Tony ‘Duke’ Evers, and working from Rocky’s corner one last time in 2006’s “Rocky Balboa”. He retired from acting the following year.
Mr. Burton passed away on February 25, 2015 at the age of 78 after a year long struggle with ill health. Sadly, he was never able to see 2015’s Creed, in which his character appears briefly via training footage from earlier films.