Masako Katsura was a legendary billiard player who conquered a men dominated game. Her accomplishments paved the way for other women to participate and contribute to the sport. She was the guiding light for all the women around the world.
One might be wondering, what were her accomplishments? Why did she become a global sensation? Why is she called the “First lady of Billiards”? To get answers to these questions, keep reading this article!
Who was Masako Katsura?
Masako Katsura was born in Tokyo, Japan, on March 07, 1913. Masako was the first woman in history who appear on the International Billiard Stage. In a traditionally male-dominated sport, she quickly became a household name in Japan. As a result,
she conquered the world as the “First Lady of Billiards,” competing in international tournaments and winning, regardless of her opponents.
Below are some exciting features of the life of Masako Katsura:
Date of Birth
March 07, 1993
Vernon Greenleaf ( married 1950)
Renowned Billiard Player
Professional Career Ended
Date of Death
December 20, 1995
Early Life of Masako Katsura
Masako had Four siblings ( three sisters and 1 brother), and she is one of the seven members of the pool halls Masako Kastura family. She grew up under the guidance of her mother, especially after her father passed away.
After her father’s death, she lived with her elder sister and her husband, Tomio Kobashi. He was the owner of the Billiard parlor. Her interest in the game bloomed as she regularly visited the Tomio Kobashi parlor.
When Katsura was 13, she regularly visited her brother-in-law’s billiard parlor, and at 14, she worked there as a billiards assistant. She practiced there regularly.
Career of Masako Katsura
Kobashi helped Masako Katsura a lot in all aspects of the game. The family bought a billiard table for the house when Katsura quickly became so devoted to the game.
At the age of 15, Masako Katsura attains her first championship. As a result, she attracted the attention of the champion at the time, Kinrey Matsuyama, also known as the Japanese Willie Hoppe. Matsuyama started to coach, Katsura and introduced her to three-cushion billiards.
Katsura has always been good at trick shots. Katsura quickly became a celebrity in her native country due to her accomplishments. During this period, Katsura began to be called the “First Lady of Billiards.”
Married Life of Masako Katsura
An American serviceman named Vernon Greenleaf met Masako Katsura during an exhibition in 1947. When Greenleaf first encountered Katsura, he was on duty at Haneda Air Base, Tokyo. He was fascinated by her and asked her to give him basic billiards lessons. This training led to the couple falling in love with each other. They were married in November 1950 and had no children.
Masako Katsura Moves to the United States
Another milestone in Kastura’s life was immigrating to the U.S. with her husband, Vernon, a year after marriage in 1951. He transferred from Haneda Air Base in Tokyo to a U.S. post.
Achievements of Masako Katsura in Billiards
Masako Katura was the first woman to compete for a World title. Following are the achievements that led her to attain International fame in Billiards.
World Three Cushion Billiards Championship
In 1952, Katsura became the first woman to compete in a three-cushion billiards championship, where her career took off. At that time, the champion was Willie Hoppe. He was a world champion with over 51 world titles, winning between 1906 and 1952.
As Katsura won the championship, he retired, and the hype surrounding their match was unmatched. Billiards was undoubtedly a popular support; the spectators still admired the idea that a woman competed in a male sport.
Women’s Three-Cushion Billiards Championship
However, Katsura’s career didn’t end in the 1952 championship. In 1953, Katsura participated and won her first-ever U.S. Women’s Three-Cushion Billiards.
Championship was a massive moment not only for her but women striving to break barriers in male-dominated sports. Masako Katsura won six
U.S. championships in her career, and this title was one of them.
However, Katsura was unstoppable as her career progressed, particularly at the 1954 World Three-Cushion Tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where some of the world’s best players emerged on the scoreboard.
The “First Lady of Billiards” Later Years
Masako Katsura became a worldwide sensation in popular sports after breaking the gender barrier in Carom Billiards. In 1958, she showed her appearance on various television shows.
In 1961, Katsura retired after losing to the current world champion.
Masako Katsura was featured in a Google Doodle celebrating International Women’s Day on March 07, 2021.
Katsura opened a new field for women, making the sport more attractive to women.
Masako Katsura Cause of Death
After achieving International fame and winning many titles, Katsura returned to their homeland in 1990.
“First Lady of Billiards” Masako Katsura died in Japan on December 20, 1995. The disease or sudden illness does not cause her death. The cause of death was natural.