1. push forth or actively encourage, be an advocate for
champion progress/change/human rights
As a noun, a 'champion' is someone who supports or defends a person or defends a title in a sporting contest or similar competition. You might have a 'wrestling champion' or a 'champion basketball player' for example. A public figure might be a 'champion for the arts' for example by supporting the arts and defending them or a 'champion for workers rights'. As a verb 'to champion' something means to support wholeheartedly or defend the cause of something. "She championed many young people in her town, encouraging them to go on to further education." "The party had championed renewable energy ever since they won seats in the last election."