Masako Katsura was a famous Japanese carrom billiard player of the 1950s. Katsura, also known as “Katsy,” the “First Lady of Billiards.” She is a world-class carrom billiards player and got a lot of achievements in the male-dominated game.
Katsy had the privilege to be the first woman who put her steps in the sports of an international billiards game. Before Masako Katsura’s introduction to the billiards game, it was common thinking that women couldn’t play the game. But Katsura not only breaks that myth, but she also proves herself a good game player.
Although Katsura was born in Japan, after her marriage to American General, she shifted to the USA with her husband. In both countries, she has made her name popular in carom billiard.
In this article, you will learn a lot of information about Masako Katsura, including her early life days, her personal life, her career, and other interesting facts about her. So, without wasting further time, let’s start discovering information about Katsy.
Early life days of Masako Katsura
Katsura’s birth date is 7th March 1913, and she was born in Tokyo, Japan. The early days of Katsura were very tough because her father died when Katsura was only 12 years old. After her father’s death, she moves to her sister’s house, where her sister lives with her husband “Tomio Kobashi.”
By profession, Tomio is the owner of a “Billiar Parlor.” Katsura spent most of her time at her brother in laws billiard parlor. After that, she started working as “Billiard Attendant” at 14. Katsura learned the basics of the Billiard game from Tomio Kobashi. By looking at Katsura’s passion for the billiard game, her sister arranged a billiard table at her house, where Katsura practices her skill in the game.
During her teenage years, Masako Katsura became a master of the billiard game and openly challenged masters of the billiard game and got a lot of fame and praise by defeating them.
Katsura was only 15 years old when she became a champion of the “Women Straight Rail Tournament.” The women’s straight rail championship is a very big tournament in Japan. After winning the title, Katsura adopted billiards as her profession and traveled to many countries to represent Japan in a billiard game.
Family members of Katsura
The family of Masako Katsura consists of 7 members, including her. She has four siblings; three are her sister, and she has only one brother. The name of Katsura’s sisters are as follows:
Katsura’s sisters also know for their proven skills in playing billiard game. Both were the champions of the “Women straight rail champions” tournament.
Katsura was a married woman, and the name of her husband in Vernon Greenleaf. By profession, Vernon Greenleaf was a “Master Sergeant” in the United States army. The first meeting of Katsura and Vernon is very interesting. In 1947 Katsura was busy giving a billiard exhibition at “Tokyo Service Club” when Vernon saw her for the first time.
After watching Katsura, Vernon takes a lot of interest in Katsura and starts taking billiard training from her. Vernon and Katsura liked each other very much and tied the knot of marriage after three years in November 1950.
The couple lived a very happy life together but didn’t have a child. After the marriage, Katsura didn’t leave her billiard game and continuously participated in different tournaments. In 1949 Katsura participated in Japan’s national three-cushion championship. She gained the second position in that tournament.
In the year of her marriage, she also remains in the second position in the Three Cushion championship.
Migration to the United States
After one year of her marriage, Greenleaf got an order of transfer from Japan to the USA. So, Katsura had to move to the USA along with her husband. Till then, Katsura can’t speak English very well. Katsura settled in San Fransisco after immigration to the United States.
Masako Katsura started her professional career in her teenage. She was very active in playing billiard games. Her Billiard career consists of two parts. In the first part, Katsura played and achieved a lot of titles in Japan.
The second part of her career consists of the billiard game she played after her immigration to the USA.
Billiard career and training in Japan
Masako Katsura learned many billiard skills in Japan from master “Kinrey Matsuyama.” Matsuyama was a star of the Billiard game and remained champion of the “Japan National Three Cushion Championship” multiple times. After watching the game of Katsura, Matsuyama was very impressed much from her.
Through the training of Kinney Matsuyama, Katsura’s game improved very much. She remained the only female professional billiard player all over Japan until her immigration to Unite States of America.
In Japan, Katsura became the champion of the “Japan National Three Cushion Championship” one time and remained runner-up two times.
Masako Katsura’s billiard career in the USA
1st US Billiar world championship
After moving to the USA in December 1952, Katsura took part in US Billiard world championship. The US billiard world championship is hosted in the parlor of “Cochran.” Cochran was the champion of the world championship nearly six times from 1933 to 1945.
Cochran had heard about the game of Katsura from Matsuyama. Master Cochran had very good thoughts about the game of Katsura. In 1953 Katsura was the first woman to participate in the “World Three Cushion Billiards Tournament.”
When Katsura takes part in the tournament, then currently “Willie Hoppe” is the defending champion of the title. In this world championship, a total of ten players took part. In this tournament, Katsura remains in 7th position. The good thing about this world championship for Katsura is that every participant admires Katsura’s participation in the male-dominated tournament.
Katsura is the main reason that other women from America and around the world have started playing billiards as a profession.
After US 1st world championship
After concluding the tournament, Masako Katsura participated in many billiard exhibitions and three cushion tournaments. The detail of these exhibitions and tournament are as under:
- In 1952 Katsura played many exhibition matches with Cochran in different cities in the USA.
- Apart from exhibition matches with Cochran, she also played weeklong exhibition matches with Kilgore in San Francisco in the first month of 1952. In these exhibition matches, Katsura faces defeat as of the total number. Kilgore got 379 points overall, whereas, on the other hand, Katsura could get only 249 points.
- After that, Katsura also played exhibition matches with Cochran and Willie Hoppe.
- Greenleaf, the husband of Katsura, remains with Katsura throughout her exhibition matches to aid in translation.
Masako Katsura’s participation in World Three Cushion Tournament (1953)
The former champion of the world three-cushion championship, Willie Hoppe, retired from the billiard game in 1952. Keep his retirement in mind; the tournament of 1953 gets more excited. Everybody wants curious to know who the next champion of the game will be.
In this tournament, Masako Katsura takes part along with ten other players. Katsura played a total of 10 matches in this tournament; in these matches, she won 5 and lost five. At the end of the tournament, Katsura stood in fifth place along with Matsuyama.
The champion of the 1953 world three-cushion tournament was “Kilgore,” who won a total of 8 matches out of 10 matches. Two players record their names in the runner-up’s name, i.e., Bozeman and Navarra.
Masako Katsura’s participation in World Three Cushion Tournament (1954)
Next year in 1954, in the world three-cushion tournament, Katsura again took part along with seven other contestants.
In this tournament, Katsura scored 4th position overall. In this tournament, Harold Worst and Ezequiel Navarra tied the final match. Hence both are victorious in the 1954 world three-cushion tournament.
After that tournament, Katsura was not seen much in the game. She only played a few exhibition matches.
Television appearance of Masako Katsura
Masako Katsura appeared on the television screen multiple times. Following is a brief detail about her tv appearance:
- For the first time, Katsura appeared on a popular television channel, “CBS.” She participated in a show called “What’s My Line?”. The show in which Katsura participated went on air on 1st March 1959.
- In June 1959, Katsura again appeared on another television channel called “ABC.” Katsura takes part in the channel’s famous show with the name “You Asked for It.” In this show, she is welcomed as a guest. In the same show, Katsura again appeared in November 1960.
Last 35 years of Masako Katsura
After several appearances on television shows, Katsura played very few billiard matches. She played a tile match with Worst in 1961. The last time Katsura appeared in a billiard match was in 1976 in San Fransisco.
In her last match, she borrowed a cue and made 100 points at straight rails. After making these runs, she thanked the crowd by bowing in front of them and then disappeared permanently from the billiard game.
Death of Masako Katsura
After her last match in San Fransisco, Masako Katsura moved back to Japan to live with her sister in 1990. She spent her last five years with her sister. The death date of famous billiard champions is 20th December 1995.
So, here is all the information about Masako Katsura you must know about her. She was a trendsetter woman. Katsura achieves a lot of fame throughout her career. Her husband died in 1967, and after that, she preferred to live alone and far from her famous life.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What was the age of Masako Katsura when she died?
Masako Katsura had lived a wonderful and energetic life. She was very weak when she was a child. But with the help of her family, she comes out as one of the strongest women of the 1950s. She died in 1995 at the age of 82 years.
How did Masako Katsura die?
Katsura spent the last days of her life in Japan. She died suddenly without any prior symptoms of illness or disease.