Raymond Ceulemans, the billiards legend
The most rewarded player of carom billiards in the history of three-cushion billiards: 35 times world champion, 48 times European champion and 61 times Belgian champion, was born on 12 July 1937 in Lier in the province of Antwerp, Belgium. The son of a café owner, an establishment equipped with a billiard table, the young Raymond started playing at the age of seven. Later, he trained as a diamond cutter.
At 23 years of age, Raymond Ceulemans won his first title as three-cushion billiards Belgian champion. Two years later, in 1962, he became European champion in the discipline. The following year, in 1963, he was world champion.
"I worked in the diamond sector for ten years", he told RTBF in an interview for his 80th birthday, then we ran cafés. I played billiards from time to time and I travelled around the world for tournaments. In about 1985, things changed with the arrival of Werner Bayer and his professional circuit. From that point on, we were able to make money from our talent in the same way as normal athletes. Things are different today, some of them have never worked and have only ever known billiards."
Raymond Ceulemans is also the joint record-holder with the Japanese player Junichi Komori for the best 3-cushion billiard series with an average of 28, which means an average of 28 high runs, a performance he achieved in 1998.
He has dominated the carom billiard world in the same way as René Vingerhoedt, his illustrious model, did before him and this harvest of world titles started in 1963 in Germany and ended in 2001 in Luxembourg when he was 63 years old.
Mister 100, the nickname he was given for his 100th title in Las Vegas, was awarded a knighthood by King Albert II of Belgium, an honour which few athletes can boast.
To see the champion at work, please go to YouTube.
Photo: © Rob C. Croes / Anefo