Behind the Names

So many successful billiards players go by another name (ahem, The Striking Viking is also known as Ewa Mataya Laurance). We rounded up some of the best, classic billiards nicknames and are giving you the 4-1-1 on who was behind the name:

  • “The Diamond King” – Johnny Layton: (1896–1956) The Diamond King won the World Three-Cushion Championship 12 times. He’s credited with originating the method of using the diamond system through the application of his mathematical mind.  He recorded the high three-cushion game mark of 50 points in 23 innings—his record still stands.
  • “The Boy Wonder”– Jimmy Caras:  When he defeated Ralph Greenleaf at the age of 17 he was given the nickname “Boy Wonder of the World”. Three of his records still stand, “most balls”, “most games won”, and “fewest innings by a champion”. Caras was inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame in 1977.
  • “The Cue Queen” – Jean Balukas: Balukas was the second woman inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame. She competed in her first U.S. Open at the young age of nine and finished seventh. Just three years later at 12 years old, she won her first U.S. Open. Balukas boasts seven U.S. Open 14.1 titles and six World Open titles.
  • “The Showman” – Ralph Greenleaf: (1899-1950) One of the game’s first true showmen, his New York Times obituary said “What Babe Ruth did for baseball, Dempsey did for fighting, Tilden did for tennis…Greenleaf did for pocket billiards” He was in the first group of players inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame in 1966. He won his first world title in 1919 and defended it nine straight times. He put on trick-shot exhibitions, complete with a mirror over the table to enhance the view for the audience.

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