Pool Masako Katsura was a Japanese billiards player who made history in the male-dominated sport of billiards. She was the first woman to win a professional billiards tournament and was dubbed the “First Lady of Billiards.” Katsura’s legacy continues to inspire billiards players around the world.
Early Life and Career:
Pool Masako Katsura was born in Tokyo in 1913. She was fascinated by billiards from a young age and began playing at 12. She quickly developed her skills and became a regular player at a local billiards hall. In 1934, at 21, Katsura won her first major tournament in Japan.
Breaking Barriers in Billiards:
Katsura’s success in Japan caught the attention of billiards players around the world. In 1952, she traveled to the United States to compete in the World Pocket Billiards Championship. Despite being the only woman in the tournament, Katsura held her own against the male players and made it to the semifinals. She eventually finished in fourth place, making history as the first woman to place in a professional billiards tournament.
The First Lady of Billiards:
Katsura’s groundbreaking performance in the World Pocket Billiards Championship earned her the nickname “First Lady of Billiards.” She continued to compete in tournaments worldwide, including in the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. Katsura’s success and charisma helped popularize billiards among women in Japan and inspired a new generation of female billiards players.
Later Life and Legacy:
Katsura retired from competitive billiards in the 1970s but continued to promote the sport through exhibitions and demonstrations. In 2003, she was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame, cementing her legacy as a pioneer in the sport. Katsura passed away in 2010 at 97, but her impact on billiards and women in sports continues to be felt today.
Masako Katsura’s trailblazing career in billiards paved the way for future generations of female players. Her perseverance and success in a male-dominated sport continue to inspire athletes worldwide. Katsura will forever be remembered as the “First Lady of Billiards.”