Promotion-chasing sekiwake Kotomitsuki dodged a bullet before pulling off an upset win over ozeki Kaio to preserve his share of the three-way lead in the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

Meanwhile, ozeki duo Tochiazuma and Chiyotaikai both had a trouble-free day at the office as both posted easy wins to stay unbeaten with six days left in the 15-day meet at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

In the day’s featured bout, Kotomitsuki needed to pull out all the stops to topple Kaio (6-3) and showed dogged determination as the autumn champion moved closer to promotion to sumo’s second highest rank of ozeki.

Kotomitsuki tore into Kaio at the charge and, after surviving a pair of attempted backward leg trips from his opponent, fought back to usher Kaio over the edge of the ring.

“I knew I had to get stuck in straight away but I must say I surprised myself with the way I wrestled today. I’ve awarded myself full marks for today’s performance. Now I’ve just got to keep it going,” Kotomitsuki said after the win.

In contrast, Tochiazuma barely broke sweat in his bout with Toki and only needed three shoves to dispose of the second-ranked maegashira, who left the ring nursing a 2-7 record.

Chiyotaikai, who secured a winning record Sunday to retain his ozeki rank, then produced a carbon copy of Tochiazuma’s triumph by blasting out an uncharacteristically meek Takanonami (5-4) for a no-nonsense win.

Musoyama also got on the scoresheet for the ozeki camp after charging out fourth-ranked Chiyotenzan (3-6).

Elsewhere, sekiwake Asashoryu completed a clean sweep for the trio of Mongolian wrestlers in the sumo’s elite makuuchi division with an outside leg trip win over komusubi Wakanosato to leave both men with a 5-4 record.

The win came after new komusubi Kyokutenho notched only his second victory by hauling down top-ranked Akinoshima, also 2-7, and compatriot Kyokushuzan, a No. 1 maegashira, pulled second-ranked Tamanoshima (1-8) down from behind to improve to 3-6.

In the day’s opening match-up, makuuchi division returnee Sentoryu’s miserable form continued with a fourth straight defeat as the American No. 15 maegashira slipped to 3-6 after going down to juryo division grappler Shimotori (7-2).

More ads allowed

The Japan Sumo Association (JSA) will permit sumo wrestlers and elders to appear in corporate commercials from Feb. 1 without the restraints of sponsorship deals involving the sport’s governing body, JSA officials said Monday.

The decision opens the way for sumo elders and wrestlers in the makuuchi and juryo divisions as well as referees officiating matches in the top two tiers to appear in commercials if they receive permission from their stable masters or senior supervisors.

Corporate sponsors will also be required to pay 5 percent commission to the JSA for those who appear in their commercials.

They have until now been only allowed to appear in commercials for the companies supporting regional training tours regularly held between tournaments or in public service announcements.

The latest move came after the JSA regained full control of the provisional tours this year, severing its ties with the public relations companies which had promoted and operated such tours in recent years via corporate sponsorship deals.

Sumo elder Wakamatsu, the public relations chief for the JSA, said, “The more corporate sponsors, the better for sumo.”

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