“If there was a problem with the part you did they could trace it back to you and you’d be fined, then you’d have to repair it,” said Song, who practiced martial arts in his spare time.
Now a fully fledged UFC fighter, those long days in the factory are over, but when Song travels on the trains which criss-cross China’s vast landscape his mind is cast back.
He sometimes wonders if the train he is sitting on has one of the parts he made.
But the trains are motivation too.
“When I was in that job I really didn’t like it,” said Song.
“So when I quit and went out to do MMA I was thinking: I must practice well so I won’t need to go back.”
by Peter Stebbings / with Jessica Yang