2007-03-23 / Community

Ringgold Moves From Lifeguard To Soap Star

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

Ringgold watches Ashanti's back during one of her television appearances.Ringgold watches Ashanti's back during one of her television appearances. Sean Ringgold was a lifeguard on Beach 116 Street four years ago when he decided that the annual arm-wrestling championship looked like something for him to do.

"I saw all these guys and thought that I could beat them," the 29-year-old Rockaway native said. "They put up one guy after another, and I beat them all."

Eventually, Ringgold would become first the Queens champion and then the New York City and New York State champion as well.

Now, Ringgold has moved on to loftier pursuits.

The executive protection specialist has morphed into a soap star, with several appearances on Channel Seven's premier soap, "One Life To Live," where he plays the part of Shaun, a bodyguard and friend to one of the show's stars.

In addition, Ringgold can be seen on dozens of television commercials for such top firms as Boost Mobile, Dunkin Donuts and Burger King.

How did Ringgold move from lifeguard to celebrity?

Ringgold with superstar Tom Cruise during one of his bodyguard stints.Ringgold with superstar Tom Cruise during one of his bodyguard stints. It happened so fast, even he isn't sure.

Ringgold brought his camcorder to the beach one day five years ago to tape some of the lifeguards in their everyday duties.

He saw the tables for the arm wrestling competition set up on the boardwalk and got curious. He walked over and, on a whim, decided to compete.

Within days, he was the Queens Champ for both the left and right hands.

He came back the following year and won again, this time moving on to the city championship and finally the Empire State Championships, taking on all challengers and winning every match.

That led him to a stint on the Black Entertainment Television Network (BET) and a job bodyguarding for such stars as Ludacris, whom he accompanied to Africa, LL Cool J, Reggie Miller, Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Ashanti.

He worked for a time on the team that was protecting Steven Spielberg and the cast of the movie "Munich.

Rockaway native Sean Ringgold with the cast of One Life to Live. Ringgold plays a bodyguard on the show, something he does in real life as well.Rockaway native Sean Ringgold with the cast of One Life to Live. Ringgold plays a bodyguard on the show, something he does in real life as well. His contacts in the protective industry led him to BET, where he worked on the hit show, "106 And Park."

That, in turn, led him to the world of soap operas.

"I've really been fortunate, in the right place at the right time," he told The Wave this week.

It might not have gone that way.

Growing up in Rockaway Park was not always easy. Ringgold, a graduate of Junior High School 180 and Queens Vocational High School, was going to be an electrical engineer "My friends wanted me to get into stealing cars, doing drugs, joining a gang," he said. "I resisted those things and made my background work for me rather than against me."

Ringgold's latest project will once again take him one step further in his acting career. He has a part in the movie "American Gangster," starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

He says that he plays a mobster who eventually shoots himself in the head.

And, while Ringgold is on the entertainment fast track, he says that he doesn't want to forget his Rockaway roots.

"I really want to help the kids here in Rockaway," he said. "I want to work with the teens at Far Rockaway High School and Beach Channel High School to teach them to keep out of trouble, to go the right way."

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