|“||Time to put some hustle behind this muscle.||„|
|~ Duke's famous quote.|
|“||Touch me, and I'll SUE!!||„|
|~ Duke threatening to sue Rocky if he tries to beat him|
George Washington Duke is the main antagonist of the 1990 film Rocky V. He is an arrogant boxing promoter who wanted to profit out of up-and-coming boxers for his own needs.
He was portrayed by Richard Gant.
Duke used to have at least 20 years of promoting some of the greatest boxing fights in history, though he wasn't able to sign up the famed boxer Rocky Balboa. It wasn't until Rocky returned from Russia after defeating Ivan Drago to avenge Apollo Creed's death, that Duke introduced himself to Rocky and his family during their press conference. Duke offered to help Rocky in bringing more glory by setting up a fight with young boxer Union Cane, but Rocky respectfully declines, saying that he's retiring due to suffering brain damage thanks to Drago's brutal punches. Despite this, Duke still intends to get Rocky into the ring by hounding him and his family, much to their annoyance.
Eventually, the Balboa family lost their fortune after Uncle Paulie was tricked to sign off their power of attorney to their accountant, who squandered the money off in bad real estate deals. As such, the Balboa family is forced back to move into their old neighborhood, though Rocky takes comfort in re-opening his old gym where his old trainer Mickey Goldmill trained him. Eventually, Rocky takes in and trains a young Oklahoma fighter named Tommy Gunn, who hopes to following in Rocky's footsteps as a renowned boxer. As time passes by, Duke (along with his aides Merlin Sheets and Karen) watch as Rocky helps Tommy win a series of fights, climbing himself into the ranks of boxing history. A delighted Duke takes the opportunity to shower Gunn with luxuries as a reward before promoting him a shot against Union Cane for the title, much to Rocky's disapproval.
Rocky tried to convince Tommy not to let Duke have his way with him by pointing out that Duke is running a dirty business in leeching off great boxers, but Tommy is resentful toward the fact that he's living under Rocky's shadow, and decided to leave for Duke so that he can earn more fame to himself, much to Rocky's distraught. Though Tommy was able to beat Cane to win the title fair and square, he gave credit to Duke instead of Rocky, which incited the disgusted audience and press to jeer at Tommy for abandoning Rocky for his own greed. Duke then convinced Tommy to challenge Rocky into a fight in the ring in order to get the respect that he wants.
To that end, Tommy called Rocky out to challenge, but Rocky refuses, prompting an annoyed Tommy to start insulting him. Paulie tried to defend Rocky by pointing out that Tommy betrayed him to satisfy both his and Duke's greed, but this only incites an angry Tommy to punch Paulie in the face, much to Rocky's distraught. Declaring this as the last straw, Rocky angrily accepts the challenge by saying that his ring's outside on the streets. Overhearing this, Duke suggested that both Rocky and Tommy should fight in the arena to settle their score, but Tommy angrily tells Duke that he doesn't own him and that he wants to settle it right away.
Realizing now that he can't delay this any further, Duke orders Tommy to finish off Rocky, angrily warning him that he'll be done for if he loses. At first, Tommy had the upper hand, but Rocky defeats Tommy and has him arrested by the police before confronting Duke for harassing him in the first place. Duke threatened to sue Rocky if he touches him, but Rocky just punches Duke into a car with an uppercut, pointing out that he can't sue him because he's broke. This resulted the witnessing citizens to cheer for Rocky, leaving Duke and his aides in utter defeat.
Being an arrogant boxing promoter in general, Duke cares only about making profit out of boxers for his own benefit; even Rocky describes him as a 'vampire' who leeches off boxers of their talents before throwing them off the streets when they are of no use to him anymore. Duke also proved to be quite manipulative in nature as he convinced Tommy to leave Rocky to get a shot in the title for more fame, and goading the press into aggravating Tommy so that the latter could challenge Rocky into a fight to get the respect that he wants.
- Duke is based on the real-life but controversial boxing promoter Don King, in both appearance and personality in general.
- He is also the second character in the Rocky series to be given the name "Duke"; the first was Tony 'Duke' Evers, who was Apollo Creed's trainer in the first two movies and later Rocky's trainer in the third, fourth and sixth movies. Tony even made a cameo appearance in the fifth movie as he praised Rocky for defeating Drago in revenge for Apollo's death.