Ze’ev Friedman was born in Poland and immigrated to Israel in 1960 with his family who were survivors of the Holocaust. He began his athletic career as a gymnast, but weight-lighting appealed to him more. Friedman worked as a physical education teacher, graduated from the Wingate Institute and was active at Hapoel Kiryat Haim. He was the Israeli Flyweight Champion for 7 years and in 1969 he was ranked 7th at the World Championships in Warsaw. At the 1971 Manila Games, he finished in third place and at the Munich Olympics he was 12th after breaking three Israeli records and tying a fourth.
Zeev Friedman was 28 years old at the time of his death and left behind his parents and a sister. He is buried in Haifa