What event does he remember that tells about his physical prowess as a young man?
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Throughout Santiago's expedition he reflects on his days of youth. Remembering seems to bring him strength as well as nostalgia. One such memory, on Day 3, is of a Negro from Cienfuegos who he beat at arm wrestling. It was an all-night struggle, much like his struggle with the marlin, in which he won. He had emerged victorious over “the great negro from Cienfuegos (a town in Cuba).” Apparently the people called him El Campeón, or “The Champion.” Although old and broken, the image of Santiago in his youth helps us understand his fighting spirit. Hemmingway gives us an image of a heroic mythic Santiago to attach to the man who now sits old and alone in his little skiff. Santiago’s struggle with the great negro is similar to his struggle with the great marlin. He hopes that just one more time people will call him “The Champion.”