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How Masako Katsura Became The ‘First Lady of Billiards’

Masako Katsura broke every stereotype in the pool game. Starting as a 32-year-old woman playing at a 1940s men’s tournament. From there, she competed in and won an exhibition match against Michael Dhere on national television. She become the first woman pro billiards player to accomplish such a feat.


Before becoming one of the world’s most successful and well-known pool players. Masako Katsura was a regular girl growing up in Japan. It wasn’t until she was introduced to the game by her uncle that she realized her true passion in life.

From there, Katsura rose to the top of the Japanese pool scene. She became a national champion at 18 and soon began competing internationally. In 2006, she made history by becoming the first Asian woman to win the World Pool Championship.

The success of Masako Katsura has continued throughout her career. She is currently ranked as one of the top female pool players in the world and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Thanks to her dedication and love for the game, Katsura has become known as the “First Lady of Billiards.”

Masako Katsura Life

Masako Katsura was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1925 and grew up during World War II. Her father owned a billiards hall, and she often went there to watch him play. When she was just five years old, she started playing billiards herself. She quickly developed into a talented player; by 18, she had won her first major tournament.

During her career, Katsura became known as the “First Lady of Billiards” due to her success in both men’s and women’s tournaments. She won numerous championships and set several world records. In 1965, she even received an honorary degree from the US Billiards Congress for her contributions to the sport.
Masako Katsura retired from professional billiards in the early 1970s. But remained involved in the sport through coaching and commentary work. She passed away in 2006 at the age of 80.

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The Olympics and Billiards

Despite its long history and popularity, billiards was not included as an official sport in the Olympic Games. Until the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. This was due in large part to the efforts of Masako Katsura, who campaigned for the inclusion of billiards in the Olympics. Thanks to her efforts, billiards is now an official Olympic sport. With both men’s and women’s competitions.


In the 1940s, pooling and billiards was man’s game. It was played in smoky bars and backroom gambling halls by tough guys with cigar smoke-stained teeth. Few women played the game, and even fewer played well. Masako Katsura was one of those few.

A native of Japan, Masako began playing pool at the age of 14. By the time she was in her 20s, she was considered one of the best players in her home country. In 1947, she moved to the United States to pursue her dream of becoming a professional pool player.

She quickly made a name for herself in the American pool world. In 1948, she won the Women’s World Pool Championship, becoming the first non-American woman to do so. She would win that tournament six more times in the next decade.

In addition to her success in tournaments, Masako became a popular figure in the larger world of pool and billiards. She gave exhibition matches and trick-shot performances for both men and women and appeared on television shows and in magazine articles. She even wrote her column for Cue Magazine, dispensing advice on everything from proper grip to choosing the right cue stick.

Masako’s popularity transcended gender barriers and helped make pool and billiards more acceptable for men and women. Her player skills and outgoing personality made her one of the most.


When Katsura was just a child, her father taught her how to play billiards. She quickly developed a love for the game and became quite skilled. When she was 18, she entered a professional billiards tournament in Japan and won. This earned her the nickname “First Lady of Billiards.”

During the 1950s, Katsura toured worldwide, giving exhibitions and winning tournaments. She became a celebrity in the world of billiards. In 1958, she even met President Dwight Eisenhower when she gave an exhibition at the White House.

Katsura retired from professional billiards in the early 1960s. But remained active in the sport, promoting it and giving lessons to others. She was known as the “First Lady of Billiards” until she died in 2003.

Limitations for Women in the 1950s and Role of Masako Katsura

In the early 1950s, women in the United States were still limited in what they could do and achieve. While some women could succeed in male-dominated fields, others were less fortunate.

One woman who was able to overcome the limitations placed on her gender was Masako Katsura. A world-renowned billiards player, Katsura became the first woman to win a major championship in 1953. She would go on to have an incredible career. Becoming one of the most successful players of her generation.

While Katsura was successful in a male-dominated field, other women were not as fortunate. Women in the 1950s were still largely relegated to traditional gender roles. And expected to be wives and mothers. They were also paid less than men and had fewer opportunities for education and employment.

Despite the many challenges they faced, some women were able to find success in the 1950s. Masako Katsura’s story is just one example of how a woman can overcome obstacles and achieve great things.


If there is one thing that Masako Katsura has proven. Gender does not have to define what you can and cannot do in this world. As the “First Lady of Billiards,” she has blazed a trail for other women to follow. And shown that anyone, regardless of their background or experience, can excel at anything they put their mind to. Thank you for reading Masako’s story. We hope it inspires you to follow your dreams and break down barriers in your own life.

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