It was in 1952 when the unquestioned king of billiards Willie Hoppe, met an uncommon opponent: a female player, Masako Katsura. She had not even been born when Hoppe won the very first of his 51 world championships, but she shortly became famous for her skills all over Japan.
Katsura, in due course, became an international sensation; she brought her decades of expertise, which he got at Tokyo’s billiards halls, to the world stage. Becoming the first woman to compete in a men-dominated sport.
For American players of billiards pool Masako Katsura seemed to come out unexpectedly. And while the press was busy wondering over Katsura’s outfits and modernity, players who faced her marveled over her skills.
That’s how, in the 1950s, billiards player Masako Katsura has become famous as the First Lady of Billiards, who has broken the gender barrier in a popular sport like Billiards.
Who Was Masako Katsura?
Masako Katsura was a legend, a world-class female billiards player who conquered a sport that was played by men only. Due to this, she paved the way for other women to not only be a part of this sport but to give a determined contribution too.
Masako “Katsy” Katsura was the first lady in the history of international billiards to show up on the stage. In a fully male-dominated sport, she was an unexpected opponent who rapidly made her name in Japan. And she hadn’t stopped there and started to overcome the rest of the world. And became the “First Lady of Billiards,” competing and winning in international championships against the big names of billiards.
Early days in Tokyo
Masako Katsura was born in Tokyo in 1913. She grew up in a strict household. She started playing billiards at the early age of 14. After her father’s demise, her mother encouraged her to play billiards and take it up as a carrier.
Due to her issues with her health from a very early age, she had little strength and felt tired all the time. Knowing her condition, her mother wanted her to take up billiards to make her mentally and physically stronger.
In Tokyo in the 1920s, billiards was very famous there. Masako Katsura’s brother-in-law was an owner of a pool hall. This helped her discover her natural talent as well. After some time, she got a job in the billiard hall and started nurturing her talent daily.
When she won her first championship, Masako Katsura age 15, at that time, after winning this championship, she got the attention of Japan’s champion, Kinney Matsuyama. He was also known as the Willie Hope of Japan. He started coaching the young talent Katsura. He was the person who introduced her to three-cushion billiards too.
She was very fond of trick shots and got a newfound precision with three-cushion billiards, also known as carom billiards Masako Katsura brought glory to the sport and started moving forward toward chasing her dreams.
Moving Masako Katsura Game To America
World War II had harmful effects on Katsura‘s rising star. She has tried to save her career however she could, first by performing a one – women’s show for the Japanese troops. After the end of the war, she shifted to perform her tricks for the American troops.
Because of all these happenings, her international career started. He became rapidly famous for her skills and also her elegance. Welker Cochran, a champion player of billiards, then invited her to visit the USA.
In 1951, Masako Katsura took a step and moved to California. She was shocked to see women’s unavailability in the billiards halls all over California. In Japan, there was the opposite situation there were women working and playing in billiard halls all over the place. But the situation was different here. American billiard halls were made for men by men and were known as a male domain.
The First Lady Of Billiards
In California, she joined Welker Cochran as her manager. He always keeps praising her by saying good things about her in the media. But instead of giving more attention to her skills, the press was giving more attention to her gender. One news outlet called the Masako Katsura Japanese champion “ a real Japanese Cue-tee.”
She was the first woman to participate in any international billiards championship, making her precisely “the First Lady of billiards” and a staple of billiard history.
Becoming An International Billiards Sensation
She has broken the gender barrier in the sport of billiards. After that, Masako Katsura became one of the billiards’ famous faces. In the year of 1958, she showed up on network television shows. On the other hand, she also maintained her top rank In almost all the international tournaments.
One thing that went right for Masako Katsura was that she got the respect she deserves from her fellow players. As she started to play with players of higher ranking, she also started to grow in ranking. The media and her rivals both wondered about her performance as she kept getting higher rankings.
But unfortunately, in 1961, she took retirement following a tough loss to the reigning World Champion, Harold Worst.
The First Lady of the Billiards made its last appearance in 1976. She appeared at the billiard parlor of San Francisco, where she took a cue in her hand and went on a 100-point run. After that, she put down the cue and disappeared again.
Masako Katsura – A Legacy That Lives On Forever
Billiards was entirely changed by the 1970s. In this decade, a group of players formed the Women’s Professional Billiard Association. Masako Katsura billiards queen was introduced to the Hall of Fame. After some time, the former champion Katsura returned to Japan, where she died in 1995.
Her impact not only on the sport of billiards but also on culture in general, is outstanding. And this is his powerful impact and her contribution to the game that today even google is celebrating her success by sharing an animated Google Doodle in the name of Masako Katsura.
Masako Katsura is the one who is not replaceable if we talk about female billiards players.. Because she was the one who gained respect as a female player in a male dominant sport. She opened a way for every woman and taught them that they could also do what a man can or even better.