Neil Fingleton ’04: Exploring a New Career
By Andrew Clark
At 7 feet 7 inches, Durham, England, native Neil Fingleton ’04 holds the title as the tallest man in the United Kingdom. Since graduation, the former center for the Crusader basketball team has immersed himself in an interesting mix of careers, from professional basketball to clothing sales to acting.
In 2004 Fingleton embarked on an international pro hoops career, including stops in Greece, Italy and Spain. When a lingering back injury forced his decision to retire from the pro court in 2007, Fingleton opted to explore his more creative side, pursuing a career in retail. Knowing firsthand the difficulty he has finding clothes that fit, the former history major began selling clothing to other people of his stature through his website, sevenfootseven.com.
“With my being one of the tallest men in the world and having a disadvantage in buying clothes, I decided to set up my own website selling clothes to other tall men,” Fingleton says. “It seemed like a natural thing to do, and the business is now doing very well.”
With that business humming along, Fingleton now can be found pursuing his main passion: acting.
“During my time at Holy Cross, I never thought that someday basketball would be over for me,” he says. “Holy Cross gave me the enthusiasm to express myself as a person in whatever I choose to do. Now my enthusiasm lies within acting: I have a lot to thank Holy Cross for. I was fortunate enough to receive a great education from one of the top liberal arts colleges in the USA.”
Over the past three years, Fingleton has taken a number of different commercial and stage roles—he is currently starring in an English production of Aladdin as the genie, and he has a part as a Russian villain (who has some pretty serious fisticuffs with one of the leading characters) in the next X-Men movie.
“My ultimate goal would be to continue as a working actor,” Fingleton explains, citing Sean Penn, Clint Eastwood and Robert De Niro as some of his favorite actors.
“With my height, my roles are limited as to what I can and can’t get. When height is needed I am always at the top of the list now that I am becoming more known in the business,” he says, adding, “I put into action things that I have learned at Holy Cross every single day professionally.”