Masako Katsura: The Pioneering Woman of Professional Billiards

Pool Masako Katsura

Billiards, also known as pool, is a game that requires precision, strategy, and mental agility. It has been a popular pastime for centuries, but it became a professional sport in the 20th century with organized tournaments and leagues. In billiards, one name stands out as a trailblazer for women’s participation in the sport: Pool Masako Katsura, also known as the “First Lady of Billiards.”

Early Life and Introduction to Billiards

Pool Masako Katsura was born in Tokyo, Japan, on March 7, 1913. Her father was a wealthy businessman who encouraged her to pursue her interests and passions. At a young age, Katsura showed a talent for billiards and playing with her family and friends. However, billiards were not considered suitable for young women then, and Katsura had to play secretly.

At 22, Katsura entered a local billiards tournament and won. This victory encouraged her to pursue billiards more seriously and to compete in national and international tournaments.

Breaking Barriers in the World of Billiards

In the 1950s, billiards was male-dominated, and women could not compete in professional tournaments. Katsura challenged this gender barrier by competing in and winning against male players. She won her first national title in 1952, and in 1955, she became the first woman to win the All-Japan Professional Billiards Championship.

Katsura’s success 

Katsura’s success in Japan earned her international recognition, and she was invited to compete in the World Championship in 1955 in the United States. She finished in third place, becoming the first woman to place in a significant international billiards tournament. Katsura continued to compete in the World Championship for the next several years, finishing in the top ten several times.

Katsura’s success on the billiards table was due to her skill, mental toughness, and determination. She faced discrimination and ridicule from male players and spectators who did not believe a woman could compete at their level. However, Katsura persisted and proved them wrong.

Legacy and Impact

Masako Katsura’s success in billiards inspired a generation of women to pursue the sport. In Japan, her success led to the creation of women’s professional billiards tournaments, and in the United States, she paved the way for other women to compete in professional tournaments. Katsura also became a cultural icon in Japan, appearing in advertisements and on television shows.

In recognition of her contributions to billiards, Katsura was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1985, becoming the first woman to receive this honor. She passed away in 1995, but her legacy lives on in the world of billiards and beyond.


Masako Katsura’s success in billiards was not just a triumph of skill and talent but also a triumph of perseverance and determination in the face of discrimination and prejudice. She broke down gender barriers and inspired a generation of women to pursue their passions regardless of societal expectations. Katsura’s impact on billiards and women’s sports is immeasurable, and her legacy inspires and empowers people worldwide.


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