John Layfield to climb Seven Summits

John Bradshaw Layfield today will begin climbing up Mount Elbrus on his way to the Seven Summits. Marc Andrew Deley/FilmMagic/Getty Images

John Layfield, the former WWE champion and ex-football player, will attempt to climb the Seven Summits and plant a Bermuda flag on the top of the highest peak of every continent.

Layfield's first climb will begin Saturday up Mount Elbrus -- about 18,000 feet -- in Russia. He'll attempt to complete each of the other six -- Tanzania's Kilimanjaro, Indonesia's Carstensz Pyramid, Nepal's Everest, Argentina's Aconcagua, Antarctica’s Mount Vinson and Mount McKinley in Alaska -- over a two-year period.

"When I was a kid, I always dreamed about climbing mountains," said the 45-year-old Layfield, who won more than 20 titles in pro wrestling and is partnering with the WWE on this climb. "I read every book about it. I formulated this plan to accomplish it."

All proceeds will benefit the Family Centre of Bermuda. Since 1995, the charity has provided early intervention services to children who are suffering from family-based problems such as abuse, neglect and other emotional challenges.

"I just want to show these children that you can do anything in life if you work really hard and plan smart," Layfield said. "And 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit these kids."

Training has helped Layfield get back into shape.

After retiring in 2009, Layfield ballooned to about 320 pounds. But exercise and hard work have helped him get down to about 245 pounds.

"I just let my body go on autopilot, but things have gotten better," Layfield said. "In those days, I couldn't even walk on a flat golf course."