Inside Lines: Paolo Di Canio's Sunderland suffer another attack from the left


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The Independent Online

Sunderland's stunning victory at Newcastle last weekend may have mollified many among those supporters disapproving of Paolo Di Canio's presence because of his fascist past, but it clearly cuts no ice with the Trades Union Congress.

The TUC have cancelled a training event planned for the Stadium of Light over fears members would not attend in protest against the new manager's arrival. "Trade union members have recently confirmed to us that they will not attend," says the North-east regional secretary, Kevin Rowan. "While there is no boycott in place, we were approached by a number of members indicating that they were unlikely to attend while it was at this particular venue as a direct result of the appointment of Di Canio. While the club have made that appointment for footballing reasons, they will fully understand the impact it has had in damaging the reputation of a club like Sunderland, which has such a strong reputation as a community club."

So political football scores again – this time from the left wing.

Luke to change partners

Busy-bee boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is to announce yet another "major signing" on Tuesday, and the word is it will be one of Britain's Olympic gold medallists.

Naturally, speculation hovers over super-heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, but I understand it is bantamweight Luke Campbell, who has decided to take the pro plunge after his skating stint on ITV's Dancing on Ice. Hull's Campbell, who also won a European championship, was offered a new contract with GB Boxing to stay with the Olympic squad until Rio 2016, but at 26 feels the time is right for the switch. GB Boxing say he goes with their blessing.

The much sought-after Joshua is also now out of contract with the GB body but has yet to reveal his plans. The only new deal he has signed so far is with sportswear company LUTA, and he says: "I am not getting carried away with anything and will just get on with working hard and we'll see what happens."

He has been approached by every leading promoter here and several in the US, but some say those negotiating on his behalf may be pricing him out of the market. "They are talking telephone- number, five-year deals," one tells me. "That's ridiculous in the present climate."

Another 2012 medallist, middleweight bronze winner Anthony Ogogo, makes his pro debut in Sheffield next Saturday on the undercard of Amir Khan's 12-round "homecoming" bout against Mexico's Julio Diaz. Khan says he is taking a pay cut to appear in Britain for the first time in two years. But as he marries an American millionaire's daughter in New York next month, money worries seem the least of his problems. Defeat against the undistinguished Diaz would surely douse his ambition to reclaim his light-welter world-title status and go on towards a blockbuster against Floyd Mayweather Jnr.

Smith finds his voice

After impressively tripping the light fantastic to win Strictly Come Dancing, Olympic gymnast Louis Smith is about to launch himself into a new career – as a pop singer. The London 2012 silver medallist, 24 tomorrow, has sought advice from Simon Cowell, as he is keen to become an all-round entertainer.

Currently on tour with the Strictly show, he has a pleasant voice – he turned down a scholarship to a choral school in his early teens in order to concentrate on gymnastics. He has told fellow dancers that he has been bitten by the showbiz bug, and has been serenading them backstage and on the tour bus.

Plain sailing for Carr

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's hopes of becoming the new chair of Sport England may be scuppered by Tory peer pressure, but it seems to be plain sailing for Rod Carr, the former chief executive of the Royal Yachting Association, who is set to be named in the similarly vacant post at UK Sport this week.

Carr is regarded as the architect of Britain's outstanding successes in Olympic sailing over the past decade.