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Strobel

Canada's tallest man hits the big time 0

By Mike Strobel, Toronto Sun

TORONTO - 

Looks like Jerry Sokoloski, of Etobicoke, has finally hit it big.

Jerry, Canada’s tallest man, has a title role in the new Hollywood epic, David and Goliath, due out next spring.

Guess who he plays.

The movie flacks are calling Jerry 7-foot-8, but that’s Hollywood for you. I measured him shy of 7-6 a couple of years back.

“I’m 7-7 in shoes,” he tells me. Size 25 shoes, I might add.

Whatever your yardstick, he’s no hobbit. Shaquille O’Neal (7-foot-1), who took a shine to him and still sends him shoes, used to introduce him at parties as “the big guy.”

David and Goliath wrapped filming in Tunisia, which stands in for Biblical Palestine, this summer. The film has a reported $50-million budget, but director Tim (The Genius Club) Chey chose a no-name cast. Brit Miles Sloman plays giant-killer David.

If you went to Sunday school, you know how it ends. “I get my head chopped off with a sword,” says Sokoloski, 31, gleefully.

I’m happy for the big galoot. It’s not easy being 7-6 in a 5-9 world.

Pro basketball would seem a no-brainer. I first encountered Jerry in 2002 at Father Henry Carr high school in Etobicoke, when he had NBA stardust in his eyes.

But he was as slow as he was big, and despite a few tryouts, was never drafted.

So he worked security — you haven’t been bounced till you’ve been bounced by Jerry — and doggedly sought his niche. A reality show proposal fell flat and a car accident wrecked his wrestling career before it started.

Last time I saw him, in 2011, he seemed a little down, even for such a gentle giant.

Then, finally, things started looking up. First, he landed a lucrative commercial, armwrestling Mr. Clean.

Then, his agent saw the casting call for David and Goliath.

“I like the idea of playing villains,” Jerry tells me. And you can’t beat Goliath for villainy.

Next thing he knew, he was winging to Tunisia, his first overseas venture.

On one leg of his travels, the airline gave him three seats at the back, so he could stretch sideways.

Chey, also the film’s producer, hired acting coaches — and a martial arts trainer, so Jerry could credibly swing his sword, smack around Israelites and lumber about the rocky north African landscape.

“The weather over there was 15 times hotter than Toronto,” Jerry tells me. “I lost 20 pounds. Sweated a lot.”

He’s a solid 500 pounds. The real Goliath was a foot or so bigger — but not nearly as friendly.

Sokoloski has a 70-inch chest and 21-inch neck and his own label with a Toronto tailor. The line is highly exclusive. Just him.

Forget about gloves. Jerry’s hands span 12 inches, each. Yours is about seven inches, if you’re an average male.

Jerry used to claim the world’s biggest hands, but now he reveals a guy in Turkey has edged him out. “Second biggest hands in the world,” he tells curious passersby, extending a gobsmacking paw.

I once asked Jerry if it’s true what they say about guys with big hands and big feet, but he just winked.

Jerry’s love life has been a bit bumpy, but he’s now dating a very brave 5-foot-10 lass and looks healthier and happier than I’ve ever seen him.

He says his fee for David and Goliath topped six figures. He’ll sure stand out on the red carpet.

“My future is in Hollywood,” he tells me, between posing with admirers on Front Street.

Behind us, the CN Tower looks nervous.

“I’m pumped,” says Jerry. “I’d love to be the next Incredible Hulk. Or maybe a wrestling movie.” His role models? Schwarzenegger, Stallone...and De Niro.

“Jerry was a tremendous blessing,” director Chey tells the Christian Post.

“We didn’t want to create a CGI imitation like The Incredible Hulk and so our casting directors set out to find the biggest guy and he’s very big.”

Says Jerry: “My dad (a 6-foot-4 retired truck driver) always told me, ‘if you want to do something, do it big.’

“I’m trying to live up to that.”

Reach for the stars, Jerry Sokoloski, reach for the stars.

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