LOS ANGELES (APP) – Tony Burton, who drew on his career as a prizefighter to play boxing trainer Tony “Duke” Evers in all six “Rocky” films, died on Thursday aged 78.

Sylvester Stallone, who stars in the franchise, led the tributes after relatives announced Burton’s death in a southern California hospital from suspected pneumonia following a long illness.

Burton, who had been living in California for 30 years, played the trainer of Apollo Creed, the antagonist of the first two “Rocky” films, before switching to Rocky’s corner in the subsequent movies.

“Tony Burton who played the character of Duke brilliantly in all six Rocky movies… Rest in peace,” Stallone said on the Instagram photo-sharing site, posting a still from “Rocky IV” of the pair with Apollo Creed actor Carl Weathers.

“Sad news. RIP Tony Burton. His intensity and talent helped make the Rocky movies successful,” Weathers tweeted.