Published March 27, 2013
Forty-five years ago, Yank Barry was belting out “Louie, Louie” with iconic band The Kingsmen. Cut to 2013, and he’s a third-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee with very real prospects of joining the ranks of past winners including The Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.
“I was very surprised. It was gratifying,” Barry, 65, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column of his nomination, which was presented to him by boxer and Filipino political figure, Manny Pacquiáo following his recent visit to the Philippines working with victims from a typhoon that hit the nation late last year and killed over one thousand people. “It is not often that I am left speechless, but this was one of them. It’s overwhelming to think about.”
While back in his Hollywood heyday, Yank never “in his wildest dreams” envisioned such a career in worldwide philanthropy, but after thirty years entertaining, he realized there was much more he could do to make a difference.
And it was something far more rewarding than applause from a show.
“I was topping out in music and I wanted to get out before I became a ‘has been.’ I just didn’t have the passion anymore. By mistake I ended up in the food business,” Barry continued. “Mohammed Ali and talked about feeding people and the food company makes that possible. I have a passion for the food company only because it has enabled us to feed so many people.”
In 1995, Barry and the legendary boxer co-founded the Global Village Champions Foundation, a non-profit group which has fed more than 900-million meals to starving people worldwide. In 2006, the prominent performer secretly met with then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to negotiate the release of the “Benghazi Six” hostages, a group of Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who were imprisoned in 1999 and sentenced to death over a HIV outbreak that originated from their hospital.
Even though Barry’s work with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdinck might be better known to the American public, he has already earned more than twenty international humanitarian peace awards, such as the 2010 Gusi Peace Prize and being named a Red Cross Humanitarian.
But he prefers to help quietly, without the need for trumpets and Hollywood back-patting.
“I don’t need the limelight. I would much rather our champions get the limelight. I am very happy leading a private life,” Barry said. “It is just an amazing feeling to save lives. In Haiti, I held the hand of a twelve-year-old girl while her leg was amputated. All they had to give her was Motrin because that’s all that was available. And I was also there when she died.”
However, this singer-turned-philanthropist is convinced someone else deserves the esteemed Nobel nod more than him.
“Mohammed Ali is the greatest. I’ve never been with anyone who turns heads of state – kings, presidents – into little children. There’s an aura about him, and he has really been the driving force of Global Village,” Barry told us. “If he weren’t sick he would be out there today. He’s the one who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.”
In addition to being the foundation’s driving force, Ali has also given his cohort some profound words of wisdom.
“The nicest thing he ever said was ‘I’ll see you in heaven.’ That meant so much,” Barry added. “That meant so much. He also told me to stand up for my convictions.”