Ron Holt isn't a career politician, lawyer or businessman - like so many other candidates this season.
He's, well, diverse: a sky (500 jumps) and scuba diver, a published author, professor and southern Piute Indian expert. He holds a doctorate and a master's degree, and a black belt in karate. And spends his spare time in meditation or a book."I guess I'm a frustrated Indiana Jones," he says.
Now he wants to be a U.S. representative for the people of the 1st Congressional District.
Life, though, started out more simply for Holt.
He was born the only child of Dick and Louise Holt in Sweetwater, Texas. His father worked in the Texas oil fields before starting a concrete company, and his mother was a medical records clerk for a nearby hospital.
Holt's first job was loading bags of cement into a mixer for his father.
He went to high school in nearby Stamford. It was there he first dabbled in politics, organizing a Young Republicans committee for Barry Goldwater in 1964. Goldwater lost the presidential race to Lyndon Johnson, and that gave Holt enough of politicking to keep him away from it for 27 years, he said.
He also played the trombone in Stamford High's marching band and got interested in karate about that time. The martial art has been a staple in Holt's life since.
"It's taught me discipline and given me the ability to concentrate. I can get a lot done in a short period of time when my full attention is on the problem at hand," he said.
He competed at meets since age 16 but stopped two years ago. He now practices movements with swords and knives.
Holt sought adventures like sky diving because, "I thought it was scary and probably something I needed to do," he said.
He wanted a career in the military after graduation, but the U.S. Marine Corps refused his application because of vision problems, as did the Army.
He opted for studying at Texas Tech in Lubbock and graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in anthropology.
"Anthropology has shaped many of my views of politics and people," he said. "We place an emphasis on going out and seeing things for ourselves, working with small groups of people and getting things done."
Holt's first trip to Utah came in 1977 when he began a doctoral program at the University of Utah.
The school's Middle East Center and a professor attracted him to the school. He had spent time in Iran studying nomadic tribes before the fall of the shah, and the professor had done similar work.
"I came to the U. thinking I would do my dissertation in Iran or Afghanistan," he said.
But the Russians invaded Afghanistan and the shah fell, leading Holt to begin studies of the southern Piute tribe near Cedar City.
His first book on the tribe, "Beneath these Red Cliffs," is due in bookstores next month.
He has also studied the market system in Mexico.
"I came to Utah totally uninformed and fell in love immediately," he said. He met his wife at the U., and the two married in 1987. They are the parents of an 11-month-old son.
Though raised a Republican, Holt turned Democrat while attending college after watching the Johnson administration grapple with Vietnam.
The war and Nixon's impeachment convinced him to join the other side, he said.
"I wasn't particularly pleased with the Democrats at that time, but I've watched the party grow and mature," he said.
He ran for the Utah Legislature last year but lost by 226 votes to Kevin Garn. That race was his first.
Holt began teaching anthropology at Weber State University in 1985 and is now director of the school's honors program.
A profile of Republican incumbent Jim Hansen was published Saturday. Beginning tomorrow, the Deseret News will print stories on the major 3rd Congressional District candidates.