Masako Katsura

Biography of Masako Katsura

April 13, 2023

Masako Katsura achieved international fame during World War II with her one-woman shows for Japanese soldiers. These performances proved so popular that she soon gained international recognition.

After marrying American serviceman Verner Greenleaf in 1951, she relocated to America where she continued her impressive billiard tricks.

Born in 1913

Masako Katsura was born in Tokyo, Japan on December 6, 1913 to a wealthy businessman who owned a billiard hall. From an early age she became fascinated with the sport of billiards and began practicing regularly.

Her mother encouraged Katsura’s passion for the game, encouraging her to strive hard and reach her objectives. Eventually, Katsura picked up a cue and started working at the hall every day. Through dedication and commitment to her hobby, Katsura developed an impressive skill set as well as gained credibility within the sport.

At 15 years old, Katsura won the Japanese women’s straight-rail championship and soon after began competing professionally. Kinrey Matsuyama – then the defending champion – was deeply impressed with Katsura and took her under his wing; teaching her three-cushion billiards as well as introducing her to exhibition play.

At 19 years old, Katsura took part in her first world billiards tournament and placed fourth overall. After that event, she went on an exhibition tour with eight-time World Champion Welker Cochran and fifty-one-time World Champion Willie Hoppe – two former World Champions!

She performed near-impossible trick shots in pool halls across Tokyo, captivating male audiences. One such spectator was Master Sergeant Vernon Greenleaf – an American serviceman stationed there who fell in love with her after watching her show.

Masako Katsura is renowned for her incredible billiards skills, but also for her mental toughness and perseverance. To maintain these qualities, she devotes hours of practice time to strategy-building exercises as well as regular stretching to stay in shape.

Her signature shot involves placing a billiard ball atop two empty beer bottles and knocking them down without toppling them. Her unique technique has earned her international renown.

Her’s career was made even more remarkable by the fact that she was the first woman ever to compete in a World billiards tournament and invited to play an exhibition match against a world champion.

Katsura made her mark at the World Three-Cushion Billiards Championship, earning her invitation to play in the 1952 U.S. sponsored World Three-Cushion Billiards Tournament where she placed seventh. After some years off from competition, she returned to competition again in 1961, defeating Harold Worst in a title match before retiring from professional billiards after that.

Married Verner Greenleaf in 1950

Masako Katsura, the Japanese billiard champion, married an American serviceman named Verner Greenleaf in 1950 after they met during an exhibition in 1947 and fell in love.

After her marriage, she immigrated to the United States and settled in San Francisco, quickly becoming renowned for her remarkable skills. Additionally, she appeared in exhibition matches alongside various billiards legends.

Her skill and grace in billiards quickly gained international acclaim, as she performed for the troops during World War II and gradually rose to international fame.

She was also a member of the Japan National Billiards Association and achieved great success throughout her career, culminating in winning the first ladies three-cushion grand prix in Japan in 1951.

Katsura began playing billiards when she was in her teens, and quickly established herself as an accomplished player with a natural knack for the game. She showcased her skills through television interviews and exhibitions of billiards.

In her early twenties, she won several billiards competitions in Japan and quickly rose to stardom there. Additionally, she made several appearances on television channels and billiards exhibitions, helping her fame spread far beyond Japan’s borders.

Katsura met master sergeant Vernon Greenleaf during her stay in America and they soon fell in love. In 1950, they wed and moved to San Francisco together.

After her marriage, she embarked on a US tour with billiards champion Welker Cochran and participated in several exhibition matches. Additionally, she performed in a one-woman show for troops as a gift to them.

She was an enthusiastic billiards player and widely regarded as the strongest woman of her generation. Additionally, she was renown for her compassion towards those suffering.

Her skill in billiards was unsurpass, as she consistently beat men of all ages from different cities in Japan. At one point she completed 10,000 consecutive points on a straight rail with ease – which at the time was consider an impressive record.

Moved to the United States in 1951

Masako Katsura had achieved great fame in Japan before immigrating to America in 1951. She won numerous professional tournaments, attracting an enthusiastic following with her spectacular skills on tabletop.

When she first arrived in America, her talent at the table astounded many – especially billiards champion Welker Cochran. He invited her on tour and soon after they began playing exhibition matches across many cities throughout America.

Despite her success in the US, she still faced discrimination from American billiards players due to her gender. Nonetheless, she tirelessly advocated for women’s rights and dispelled stereotypes that billiards was not a sport suitable for women.

She was an exceptional player, capable of out-playing most men. This earned her respect among billiards enthusiasts around the globe. After her career ended, she returned to Tokyo where she tragically passed away in 1995.

In Japan, she earned the title of “First Lady of Billiards.” Her ability to compete against some of the greatest billiards players worldwide demonstrated that this sport isn’t just for men – she proved it!

She had always been an accomplished billiards player, but her abilities truly blossomed after moving to the United States in 1951. To many billiards enthusiasts, her arrival in America came as a complete shock since she was female – an accomplishment which many men found astounding.

Her billiards skills were so impressive that she was able to defeat top American players like Welker Cochran and Harold Worst in exhibition matches, eventually qualifying for the World Three-Cushion Championships.

The crowds were in awe of her talent and were absolutely stunned that a female billiards player had won the competition. She donned an elegant kimono for each match and managed to pull off some incredible tricks with her cue stick.

Through her exhibitions, she managed to win over billiards enthusiasts around the globe. As a result, she achieved global fame and fortune from her career in billiards.

Retired in 1990

Masako Katsura was an renowned billiards player and the first woman to compete in the World Professional Pocket Billiards Championship. Throughout her 30-year career, she won many championships and made significant contributions to the sport of pool. Known for both her accuracy on the table and graceful demeanor, Masako Katsura set herself apart from other billiards players with her grace on and off the table.

Katsura began playing billiards at an early age and quickly developed her skills. She was inspired by her brother-in-law Tomio Kobashi, who owned a billiards hall. He provided her with instruction on the game as well as teaching her three-cushion billiards. Katsura’s family soon invested in a billiards table so she could practice at home. She took lessons from her brother-in-law and also learned to play from Kinrey Matsuyama. An accomplished billiards champion who had previously won multiple National Three-Cushion Championships.

At that time, billiards was a popular pastime in Tokyo and Katsura quickly developed an enthusiasm for it. She practiced daily and eventually became quite good at it. Winning her first national billiards championship at 15 and being renowned for her trick shots on the straight rail.

Katsura won her national billiards championship and traveled to America in 1951 to participate in a professional billiards’ tournament. As the first female to do so, she truly amazed the American audience with her skillset. In 1953, she won her first US Women’s Three-Cushion Billiards Championship and went on to win more titles. This was an historic milestone for women around the world who were striving to break barriers in traditionally male-dominated sports.

Katsura dedicated herself to teaching others how to play billiards. Her efforts brought the sport of billiards to a wider audience. Creating an inspiring platform for future generations of billiards enthusiasts around the world. Katsura’s remarkable talents earned her a place in the Hall of Fame. Recognition as a national hero in Japan, along with numerous awards. After her retirement, Katsura dedicated herself to coaching other billiards players. Additionally, she wrote several instructional books and appeared on various television shows related to the sport.

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