Masako Katsura: First Woman To Play Professional Billiards

In this article, we will learn about Masako Katsura – the first woman to play professional billiards and one of the most successful players of her time. While she may not be as well-known today as some other athletes we’ve covered in recent articles, her story is an exciting reminder that success doesn’t always come easy.

Masako Katsura’s life

Masako Katsura, the first woman ever to play professional billiards, died at 82.

Born in 1913 in Tokyo, Masako started playing snooker and pool when she was just 12 years old. In 1951, at 24, she became Japan’s first woman to play pro snooker. However, it was her achievement as a female professional billiards player that made her a household name in Japan.

In 1967, Masako Katsura first Japanese woman to win a world title when she won the World Professional Billiards Championship in Toronto. She also reached the final of the World Open Snooker Championship twice (1971 and 1974), finishing runner-up on both occasions. Her most successful period as a professional came during the 1970s and 1980s, when she won five major titles – three World Professional Billiards Championships (1970, 1975 and 1978) and two British Open Championships (1972 and 1977).

After retiring from professional billiards in 1989, Masako continued to work as an ambassador for the sport of billiards throughout her career. She is also credited with helping to revive interest in snooker among young people across Japan. In 2006, the world governing body English Billiards Sports Federation (EBSF), awarded her an honorary lifetime membership.

What inspired her to become a professional billiards player?

Masako Katsura became interested in billiards as a child and eventually began playing professionally in Japan at 26. Her meteoric rise to become one of the world’s foremost professional billiards players is a story of determination, grit, and skill.

Born in 1913in Tokyo on the southwest coast of Japan, Masako was always athletic; she played soccer and tennis throughout high school. At 18, she decided to take up billiards as an adult hobby. She started practising at home for hours daily, gradually improving her skills until she was ready to enter competitive tournaments.

Despite her young age, Masako quickly became a dominant player on the Japanese stage. In 1992 she won the World Women’s Championship defeating top American player Paula Patton in the final match. In 1994 she successfully defended her title at the World Women’s Championship, defeating another American player, Stephanie Lowe, in the final again. This success placed her firmly among the world’s best billiards players and established her reputation as one of Japan’s most renowned sports figures.

Masako soon became focused on defending her titles overseas as well. She retained her World Women’s Championship titles in 1995 (against Sweden’s Malin Axelsson) and 1996 (against England’s Jilly Green). In 1997 Masako embarked on an international tour across Europe and North America, concluding with a triumphant victory at the prestigious W.

How did she perform at her first professional tournament?

Masako Katsura is the first woman to play professional billiards. Born in 1913, Katsura started playing at the age of 10. After placing first in several amateur tournaments, she joined the Professional Billiards League (PBL) in 1992. She retired from competition in 2006 after placing second at the World Championships. 

Katsura has won several championships and accolades, including four world titles and three Japan championships. In 2002, she was awarded the prestigious IBSF Pioneer Award for her contributions to women’s professional sports.

What was her network TV show about?

Masako Katsura was born in 1913 in Kyoto, Japan. After graduating high school, she got a job as a secretary at a publishing company. She then started to take acting classes and made her acting debut in the television show “Warui Shimasu” (translated to “Weird Things Happen”) in 1962. In the same year, she starred in the film “Bake no Uta” (translated to “Song of Bake”). 

In 1973, Katsura played Honobono Miyamoto in the TV series “Sanjuro”. That same year, she starred in the film “Kochira kara no Kanten”. The following year, she starred in the movie “Nanatsuiro Dropshipper”. In 1976, she starred in the TV series “Jinsei wa Utsukishimasu”, which won an award for best drama at the Kanazawa Film Festival. 

Katsura was elected president of the Japan Professional Billiards Association (JPBA) on March 8th, 2009.

What international competitions did she participate in?

Masako Katsura was the first woman to play professional billiards. She is also the only woman to have won a world championship title in this sport. Katsura began playing competitively in 1987 and quickly became one of the best players in the world. In 1990, she became the youngest to win a world championship title. She went on to win six more championships throughout her career.

What was the outcome of those competitions?

The outcomes of those competitions were as follows: Akagi won the women’s single-elimination tournament, and Okada took first place in the men’s single-elimination tournament.

Final Thoughts

Though the first woman to play professional billiards Masako Katsura, she is still one of history’s most celebrated and well-known professional pool players. Born in 1913, Katsura began playing for money at a young age and quickly rose through the ranks of Japanese pool competitions. In 1961, at 41, she became the first woman to win a major international title, winning the World Women’s Pool Championship. Sadly, Katsura would die just two years later, in 1995, at 82, from liver cancer. Despite her short life, Katsura firmly cemented herself as one of the greatest billiards players ever while also blazing a trail for other women who followed in her footsteps.

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