Paralympic ski-racer, bestselling author, and motivational speaker Josh Sundquist was in Malaysia recently to attend the 4th iM4U Reach Out Convention & Celebration in 1M4U Sentral Puchong. He was part of the speaker line-up which consisted of awe-inspiring international speakers such as David Edward Garcia, Shane Feldman, A’ric Jackson, and Joe Beckman.
In case you didn’t know, Josh’s story centres on losing his left leg to Ewing’s sarcoma at 9 years old. However, 6 years after surviving the battle with cancer and losing his leg, he began ski racing and later became a Paralympic ski-racer.
He was only 16 years old when he gave his first motivational talk and has been speaking to groups ever since, eventually becoming a nationally recognised speaker in the US. His public appearances often included the sharing of experiences and his story, and spreading positivity.
Alas, a strange turn of events in Kuala Lumpur crushed what’s left of his self-esteem and doubting the very core of his motivational talks.
Josh headed out to the city about 12 hours after his iM4U appearance to paint the town red with his friends. Together, they hit up Zouk Club Kuala Lumpur at Jalan Tun Razak for a night of fun. Some point in the night, Josh decided to get on the “platform” (read: podium) to dance for a bit, only to be chased down by some “security guards” (read: bouncers).
According to Josh, they pulled his crutches away, leaving him standing there (probably in shock) without support, and unable to move or walk.
April is actually amputee awareness month. It seems these bouncers have (inadvertently) helped raise a lot of awareness here on the internet
— Josh Sundquist (@JoshSundquist) April 13, 2016
In his video testimony, filmed after the incident, he said, “I don’t know why, like I don’t know if it’s..you know how some clubs have this..you know this thing where they’re like, ‘Oh only girls can dance on the 2-foot platform’ or even worse, you know, ‘People with disabilities, we don’t let them..we don’t let people see people with disabilities at our club. Only beautiful people can be on our platform. God forbid someone who looks different is in the centre of our club’.”
Josh also mentioned that no explanations were offered to him or his friends by the club’s management after the incident but as soon as he got off the platform and got his crutches back from bouncers, he and his friends left Zouk KL.
Watch his tearful video below:
What do you guys think though? Did the bouncers really single Josh Sundquist out just because he’s physically impaired? Or were they just doing their job to ensure that no men were on the podium, as per Zouk Club Kuala Lumpur rules? How do you think either party could’ve handled this situation better? Feel free to discuss this in the comments box below.
Zouk KL just celebrated its 12th anniversary a few weeks ago and unveiled its new status as the #26 club in the world. The club hasn’t released an official statement with regards to the above matter but we’ll update this post with more information as soon as we have the details.
UPDATE (14th April, 3:54pm):
Zouk KL has come forward to address the above matter. In their official statement, the club’s management explained that they have reviewed the CCTV footage on Saturday night/Sunday morning (9th – 10th April), during which Josh Sundquist was at the venue. And after some investigation, found discrepancies between Josh Sundquist’s account and what was seen in the CCTV footage.
Read their full statement below:
“Zouk KL has reviewed the CCTV footage on Saturday night/Sunday morning (April 9-10), during which a patron with crutches was escorted off the dance podium. Following our investigations – and in response to Mr Josh Sundquist’s YouTube post on April 12 – we would like to clarify that Zouk KL does not discriminate against persons with disabilities, a policy it has held since its inception in 2004. Zouk also has patrons who are wheelchair bound or who require the use of crutches, some of whom are amputees. We continue to welcome them and provide assistance so they have easy access to the various rooms in the venue.
On April 9, Mr Sundquist, an amputee who walks with the aid of crutches, arrived at Zouk KL at 11:10pm with a group of friends. They entered the premises at 11:12pm, whereupon they ordered several bottles of drinks at Zouk Main Room.
Two hours later, at 1:16am, Mr Sundquist and his female companion ascended the female-only 2-ft high dance podium at Zouk Main Room. Within a minute, a member of the security staff approached Mr Sundquist to ask him to come down from the podium, explaining to him that the podium was for women.
Mr Sundquist appeared to ignore him and continued dancing on the podium. His female companion moved off the podium to the dance floor, and gestured to him to come down, too. Mr Sundquist continued dancing, while another female customer went up the podium to dance.
Moments later, a second security staff member approached Mr Sundquist to request that he come down from the podium and also explained to him that the podium was for women. The security member placed his hand on Mr Sundquist’s back to guide him down. Mr Sundquist resisted, and raised his right hand, crutch hanging at his elbow. The security member held the flailing crutch and managed to get a firm grip on Mr Sundquist’s right arm and pulled him to safety, while the other security member supported his left forearm. At that point, Mr Sundquist was dancing close to the corner of the podium and he appeared to be increasingly unsteady, as shown on the CCTV footage. The two aided Mr Sundquist to keep his balance on either side of him. They then guided him off the podium. During this time, Mr Sundquist’s female companion had remained on the dance floor next to the podium.
The two security staff members promptly returned the crutches to Mr Sundquist once they were on the dance floor, and left him in the company of his friends. The title of Mr Sundquist’s video, “Security” gang stole my crutches, is thus inaccurate.
Mr Sundquist alleges that he was helpless when security took his crutches. He says in his YouTube video: “I’m standing there, in the middle of a dance club, without my crutches… and as a person without a leg, that means, I’m immobile, you know, I can’t move! I can’t walk!” — This is inaccurate. One security staff member held on to Mr Sundquist’s right arm, while the other security member supported his left forearm, providing support on either side. His crutches were returned to him promptly when Mr Sundquist was on the dance floor. It also did not appear on the CCTV footage that he could not move.
Mr Sundquist alleges that only beautiful people can get on the podium, and that the club would not allow people with disabilities on it. “We don’t let people see people with disabilities at our club,” he says in his video on YouTube. This is inaccurate. We would like to clarify that the podium on which Mr Sundquist had been dancing on has been traditionally a place where only female patrons are allowed. Male patrons have occasionally clambered onto the podium but they gallantly make way for female patrons, when informed by the staff.
Mr Sundquist alleges that he did not know why he was asked to leave the stage. We have interviewed the security staff who aided Mr Sundquist off the podium. Both said they explained to Mr Sundquist that the podium is for female patrons.
We apologise that perhaps the manner in which our security members had conveyed their intentions could have been misunderstood by Mr Sundquist. Their actions were out of professional obligations as well as concern for Mr Sundquist, when he also danced unsteadily near the edge of the podium.
Numerous requests were made to Mr Sundquist to come down from the podium by the security staff members. During the course of it, they had been polite. At no point were they hostile or aggressive. All these were captured on our CCTV footage.
We would like to thank Mr Sundquist for his patronage at Zouk KL. We will be contacting him on the matter, should he require further clarification.”