HomeCelebrityWhy did Masako Katsura become the 'First Lady of Billiards'?

Why did Masako Katsura become the ‘First Lady of Billiards’?

Masako Katsura japanese woman named Masako Katsura dominated the world of billiards in the early 1900s. As a world-class player, Katsura was nicknamed “The First Lady of Billiards.” Today, Katsura is remembered as one of the most talented players. In this article, we will examine her career and life.

Life in the early years

It is still being determined what life was like for young Katsura, who lived with her brother and three sisters in Tokyo, Japan, in 1913.

Sadly, Katsura’s father passed away when she was 12 years old, and she had to live with her older sister and her husband, Tomio Kobashi, who owned and operated a billiard parlor.

It’s also well known that Kobashi was a decent player and would certainly have helped Katsura understand the game and get ahead in all aspects. 

Pool player Masako Katsuro makes a name for herself.

Because of all this practice, billiards player Masako Katsura quickly became extremely talented at the sport, thrashing competition and beating Japanese men from all over the surrounding areas in tournaments.

At 15, player of billiard masako katsura just years after she picked up the game for the first time, she won the women’s championship straight rail tournament for the entirety of Japan, which was no easy feat. Katsura’s younger sisters were also getting into the game, later winning the same tournament.

During Katsura’s time, women weren’t playing billiards competitively as much as men. In Japan, women weren’t allowed to play the game in public.

Katsura became something of a celebrity in her native country as a result of her accomplishments.

During this time, player of carom billiards Masako Katsura became known as the “First Lady of Billiards.” The nickname stuck, and when she began touring internationally in the 1930s, she used it as her professional name.

Romance and marriage

Masako Katsura age was 22-year-old when she married a U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps master sergeant, Vernon Greenleaf, spotted Katsura in 1947.

After meeting at a Tokyo service club where Katsura organized billiard exhibitions, Vernon began taking lessons from Katsura, and the two fell in love. 

As we’ll see below, Katsura was already on the rise with her billiards career when they married.

As well as holding second-place titles in Japan’s three-cushion championship, Katsura scored 10,000 contiguous points at a straight rail competition.

During this feat, she nursed the balls around 27 tables in four and a half hours, stopping only because 10,000 was a nice milestone.

Masako Katsura Getting settled in the U.S.

This was Masako Katsura billiards next major milestone in her life.

Three months before the World Three-Cushion Billiards tournament, they set sail and landed in San Francisco in December 1951.

With Katsura’s success, she created a name for herself, and her reputation spread quickly.

A world champion himself, Cochran won the title eight times between 1933 and 1945.

As a result, Cochran sent his son, W.R. Cochran, a naval officer stationed in Japan, to look for himself.

Cochran was even more intrigued and excited to meet Katsura as a champion after seeing Katsura’s skills.

According to Cochran himself, she hit runs of 300 and 400, making ‘quite unbelievable shots’ when she arrived with her husband in the U.S.

After Cochran saw this for himself, Katsura was in her first world championship.

Career of Katsura

Katsura’s career took off in 1952 when she won the World Three-Cushion Billiards championship,

the first time a woman had ever participated in such a tournament. The world champion then was Willie Hoppe, who won 51 world championships between 1906 and 1952.

The hype for seeing Katsura compete was off the charts, as he later retired in the year with Katsura in the competition.

A landmark moment for Katsura and women striving to break barriers in male-dominated sports occurred in 1953 when she won the U.S. Women’s Three-Cushion Billiards Championship.

Katsura went on to win six U.S. championships in her career.

The 1954 World Three-Cushion Tournament, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, had some of the world’s best players on the scoreboard, many of whom had come out of retirement.

Among the line-up were;


Miller, Ray

Worst Harold

The Navarra brothers, Juan and Ezequiel

Cochran, Welker

Kilgore, the defending champion

As always, Katsura was the only female competitor in the competition. She won her first match against Miller (60-47) and continued to win matches against other competitors.

In 1954, worst, who had come out of retirement for the tournament, won the tournament after losing games against players such as Ezequiel Navarra (60-28).

Billiards: Taking a step back

While appearing in 30 exhibitions in 1958, she also released two instructional books on how to play billiards in Japan.

In 1959, word broke that Katsura would be playing Harold Worst in a one-week exhibition match in Chicago hosted by Randolph Recreations.

The show then moved to Philadelphia, where they played six matches to 50 points (three cushions) and then exhibited in New York.

Masako Katsura Appearances in the media

When Katsura appeared on CBS’s popular guess game show, What’s My Line? in March 1959, she signed her name on the name card using Japanese characters.

This meant that Harold Worst had remained the champion for over seven years and, in doing so, issued Katsura with a competitive match offer for $2,000.

Despite accepting, Masako Katsura lost to Worst 350-276.

Having won the 1961 world championship, Katsura became quiet, and the world found her relatively isolated. Masako Katsura cause of death was illness. He passed away in 1967.

Almost 20 years after her last public performance, Katsura appeared at Palace Billiards in San Francisco in 1976, borrowing a cue from an unknown player and sinking 100 points at the straight rail without error.

According to Robert Byrne, a prolific pool and billiard author from the time. She smiled and bowed to an applauding crowd, and disappeared forever from the American billiard stage.



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