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Masako Katsura: The Queen of Billiards

Masako Katsura was a Japanese professional billiards player who dominated the sport in the 1950s and 1960s. Born on November 17, 1913, in Tokyo, Japan, Masako Katsura was the first woman to gain international recognition as a billiards player. She was widely regarded as the “Queen of Billiards” and is still remembered today as a trailblazer for women in sports.

Early Life and Career

Masako Katsura was born into a wealthy family and grew up in Tokyo. She was fascinated by billiards from a young age, and she quickly became skilled at the game. In her early years, Katsura had to practice in secret because it was considered inappropriate for a woman to engage in such activities. However, her talent could not be hidden for long, and soon she was discovered by a local billiards club.

Katsura’s first significant break came in 1949 when she won the All-Japan Championship, defeating 40 male players in the process. Her victory was significant because it marked the first time a woman had won a major billiards tournament in Japan. This win earned her national recognition and paved the way for her professional career.

Professional Career

After her victory at the All-Japan Championship, Masako Katsura began her professional career in earnest. She quickly established herself as a formidable player, and her skills caught the attention of the international billiards community. In 1952, Katsura was invited to participate in the World Billiards Championship held in the United States, making her the first Japanese woman to compete in an international billiards tournament. She finished in third place, behind American players Dorothy Wise and Ruth McGinnis.

Katsura’s international success continued in 1954 when she won the Women’s World Billiards Championship held in Manila, Philippines. She went on to defend her title in 1955, 1956, and 1960, making her the only player, male or female, to win the championship four times in a row. Katsura’s dominance of the sport was unparalleled, and she inspired a generation of female players around the world.


Masako Katsura’s contributions to the sport of billiards cannot be overstated. She was a pioneer for women in sports and paved the way for future generations of female athletes. Her legacy lives on today, and she is still regarded as one of the greatest billiards players of all time.

Katsura’s success also helped to break down gender barriers in Japan. Her victories in international competitions helped to challenge traditional gender roles and inspire other women to pursue their passions. She was a symbol of strength and resilience, and her story continues to inspire people around the world.

In recognition of her contributions to the sport, Masako Katsura was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1985. She is the only woman and the only Japanese person to be included in the Hall of Fame.


Masako Katsura was a trailblazer, a pioneer, and a champion. Her achievements in billiards helped to break down gender barriers in Japan and inspire generations of female athletes around the world. Her legacy lives on today, and she remains an inspiration to all those who believe in the power of perseverance, dedication, and hard work. The “Queen of Billiards” will always be remembered as one of the greatest athletes of her time, and her story will continue to inspire people for generations to come.

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