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Tony Burton – the former boxer and actor best known for playing Apollo Creed’s trainer in the Rocky franchise – has passed away at the age of 78.

Tony Burton Photo

Burton was one of only a few actors to appear in the first six Rocky films, beginning with the original in 1976 and continuing through Rocky Balboa in 2006.

Sadly, by the time last year’s Creed was released, Burton was too ill to see the film.

His death was confirmed last night by co-star Carl Weathers, who tweeted, "RIP Tony Burton. Intensity and talent helped make the Rocky movie successful #BePeace."

Burton’s life was an underdog worthy of the films that made him famous.

After his boxing career came to an end in the late ’50s, Burton wound up doing three and a half years behind bars for robbery.

It was there that he fell in love with acting, thanks to a prison workshop that taught drama as a form of therapy.

Burton eventually appeared in more than two dozen films, including The Shining, Stir Crazy, and Hook.

He was also a skilled chess player, and defeated Stanley Kubrick – a known chess obsessive throughout his life – on the set of The Shining.

He is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Rae.