Masako Katsura is, quite possibly, the greatest billiards player of all time. Masako Katsura is also one of the least known in the sport. In 1952, at a time when women were virtually nonexistent in sports such as billiards and golf, Katsura became the first woman to beat a man in an official match. She went on to win many more trophies and championships—her career spanning six decades—but her name remains largely unknown outside of her own community and those who follow this sport closely.
Masako Katsura was born in the year 1913 in Tokyo, Japan
Masako Katsura was born on December 19, 1913, in Tokyo, Japan. Masako Katsura is the first woman ever to compete in and win a world-championship billiards competition. In fact, she was the only female competitor at that particular event and won not only her age bracket but also three other brackets before being named champion of all four categories that year.
Before you learn more about Katsura’s life and career as a billiards player, let’s first take a look back at her early years growing up in post-World War II Japan.
Masako Katsura was shy and her father wanted her to learn something new
Masako Katsura was raised by her father, who pushed her to become more confident and outgoing. He enrolled her in speech therapy classes at the age of 19. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, she said that “he wanted me to learn something new so I could overcome my shyness.”
Katsura’s father suggested that she try billiards because it was a sport where she wouldn’t need people around her for support or encouragement during competitions as she did when competing as a swimmer and figure skater (her other hobbies). After watching videos about pools on TV one day, he took Masako out for practice sessions at local pool halls despite being 37 years old at the time!
Masako Katsura started playing at the age of 19
Masako Katsura started playing billiards at the age of 19, and she proved to be a natural. Within one year, she won her first tournament. She was also the first woman to win a tournament in America—and this was back in 1924!
Although Ms. Katsura has lived in New York since she was six years old, she still speaks only Japanese and does not read or write English well. She communicates with us primarily through her translator who is fluent both in English and Japanese (as well as Chinese).
In 1952, Masako Katsura became the first-ever woman to defeat a man in an exhibition match.
In 1952, Katsura set another record by becoming the first-ever woman to defeat a man in an exhibition match. She was just 19 years old at the time and played against her opponent at a billiard hall in Tokyo.
In her book “The History of Billiards,” Katsura said that she had been practicing with men since she was just 7 years old when she got into the habit of playing pool with her teachers at school. Her father then bought her one of his own cues when she turned 13 and taught her how to play snooker.
The two made quite an extraordinary team: Katsura would later recall that “my father always used to say that I was his best pupil ever.” Following his death when she was 15 years old (he passed away from leukemia), Katsura continued practicing on her own—and excelling at it—until 1952 came around and changed everything.
She was awarded the title of “First Lady of Billiards” by ESPN’s Rembert Browne in 2012.
Masako Katsura became the first woman to ever be awarded the title of “First Lady Of Billiards.” It was given to her by Rembert Browne, an editor at Grantland, an ESPN blog that is no longer active. The award was presented on October 15th, 2012—the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America and Katsura didn’t even know she was being honored until after it had been bestowed upon her.
The America Billiard Museum Hall of Fame inducted Katsura into its ranks in 1921.
On top of her many wins and awards, Katsura was inducted into the America Billiard Museum and Hall of Fame in 1921. The Museum is located in El Paso, Texas, where Katsura has lived since she was 8 years old. This prestigious honor may help her achieve her ultimate goal: to become more recognized by pool players around the world as one of their own—a goal that seems well within reach given her recent success on the professional circuit.
Masako Katsura currently resides in the United States.
Masako Katsura currently resides in California. She moved there in 1960 with her husband, who was a professional billiards player. She has remained active in the billiard community and is still a professional player today. She also has a son who is also a professional billiard player.
Masako Katsura is one of the most successful billiard players of all time.
Masako Katsura is one of the most successful billiard players of all time. She has won over 100 tournaments and is the only woman to have ever defeated a man in an exhibition match. She was also the first woman to make it into the World Billiard Hall of Fame, which is no small feat!
I hope you enjoyed learning about Masako Katsura as much as I did. I was fascinated to learn about this woman who is considered by many to be one of the best billiards players in history. She’s a great example of perseverance, and she’s someone I look up to for inspiration when it comes to overcoming obstacles.