Champion Is a Transitive Verb

By Maeve Maddox

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I read the following sentence in a newspaper article:

He often champions for the rights of many individuals.

As a noun, champion can be followed by the preposition for:
“She is a champion for gender equality.”

But as a verb, champion is transitive; it takes a direct object:
“She champions gender equality.”

The noun champion is first documented in the 13th century with the meaning “a brave fighting man.” Because trial by combat was still part of the English legal system, by the 14th century, champion could also mean “one who fights on behalf of another.”

Note: Until the 16th century, it was possible to settle a legal dispute in England by fighting a duel. A litigant unsuited for combat could arrange for someone else—a champion—to fight in his place. In the novel Ivanhoe, the knight Wilfred of Ivanhoe volunteers to be Rebecca’s champion.

Apart from its use in the context of competitive sports, the noun champion refers to a person who protects and defends the defenseless or who fights for a worthy cause. For example:

Two Champions of Children Are Given Nobel Peace Prize
We cannot be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of the weapons of war. 

World welcomes Pope Francis as humble champion of poor

As a verb, to champion is “to maintain the cause of, stand up for, uphold, support, back, defend, advocate.” Here are examples of champion correctly used as a transitive verb:

Now that you’ve reclaimed your wounded inner child, you need to champion him. 

James Brady became a symbol of the fight for gun control, championing tighter regulations.

People living with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) will pay tribute later this year to the woman who, for decades, championed their cause.

Patricia Arquette Champions Gender Equality in Night’s Best Oscar Speech

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